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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Pentatonix treated concertgoers to one incredible night at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Aug. 22. The Grammy Award-winning a cappella group sang original and cover songs alike. Each song was packed with emotion, energy and enticement, with the five-piece group smoothly filling the two-hour time slot with harmonies to rattle fans to their cores.
Being a massive Pentatonix fan, I was so excited to see the group. Some of the group’s songs have been staple pieces of my collection through both the happiest and hardest parts of the last three years.
The first song of the night was an original track “Sing,” which started off a little shakily. I fully admit I prefer covers live with a cappella groups because originals, especially ones like “Sing,” are so heavily overdubbed in the studio that the song itself falls flat live. While the track is easily one of my favorites off of the 2015 album comprised of mostly original songs, I felt like some of the group’s originals were a little lackluster live to the well-loved covers.
As the night went on, the quintet performed a lot of early songs, which pleased fans who have been in the fandom since the beginning. “Love You Long Time” and “Natural Disaster” were some of the best performances of the night — with the ridiculously low notes required of bass singer Matt Sallee actually bottoming out the PA system.
I do think the second half of the show was much better than the first, as the group seemed to get into its rhythm and iron out any pre-show jitters. By the time we rolled into the post-intermission/costume change, the songs began to sound more like they do on the albums as the five singers’ voices had warmed up nicely.
I taped three songs for my own memory, one of them being “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I had made it abundantly clear to my family we were going to stay for the encore, since I knew this song was the only one being performed. Being a huge Freddie Mercury and Queen fan, I was skeptical the band could do this one justice when it first came out. It’s now my all-time favorite cover of theirs, and tears streamed down my face and I collapsed into audible sobs as the song ended.
That was the third time I “ugly cried” at the show. I didn’t even care what I looked like.
The show was preceded by a pair of incredible openers from Yorkshire-born ballad master Calum Scott and California-based alternative rock group Echosmith. Echosmith’s set brought enough bass drum to make your heart vibrate while Scott’s set was full of songs about love and heartbreak, and was the deepest, most emotionally charged part of the evening.
As I walked across the bridge after the concert, I thought, if I had to pay the $69.50 just to hear ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ one more time, I’d throw the money at whoever was offering.