Pentatonix at the Hollywood Bowl

Pentatonix (PTX) are easily the most successful and biggest A capella group worldwide. PTX played their first ever show at the Hollywood Bowl Thursday night. This was their only U.S. date prior to their annual Christmas tour which will begin November 17th. The three founding members are Scott Hoying (Baritone), Kristin Maldonado (Soprano), and Mitch Grassi (Tenor) who were 20-21 when forming the group 10 years ago. PTX became the first A capella group to win a Grammy for Best arrangement , or A capella in 2015 and won again in 2016. PTX also won a third year in the row but for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. PTX also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2014 honoring Tom Hanks. PTX also had the highest charting holiday album for a group in 54 years. PTX has had two number one albums. Hoying, Maldonado, Grassi, beatboxer Kevin Olusola, and vocal bassist Avi Kaplan competed in Sing-Off for their chance to meet the cast of Glee and were the winners of season three. In 2017 Kaplan departed the group and Matt Sallee has been handling the bass vocals since. The next 10 years the group would find major success. Darren Criss known for his role as Blaine on Glee and Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch opened the show. 

Criss had 20+ film/TV credits prior to being part of the cast of Glee. Following Glee, Criss also did voice-acting for the 2014-2020 Transformers: Robots in Disguise series and currently Green Eggs and Ham. Criss was also in American Crime Story. Criss played a seven song set including three songs featured in Glee “Somewhere Only We Know,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” which also paid tribute to the great Olivia Newton-John who passed away on August 8th, and “Teenage Dream.” Glee fans may remember there was a whole episode dedicated to Grease as well as another honoring Katy Perry’s style and music. There was also a very special performance of “Going Back to Hogwarts” including the cast of A Very Potter Musical. As Criss mentioned for anyone younger back in the earlier days of YouTube they would remember this beloved parody. Criss isn’t just a great actor, but also a singer and performer as well as a pianist and guitarist. 

Before PTX took the stage a medley of film classics mostly by John Williams recorded by the group including the 20th Century Fox Theme, Star Wars “Imperial March,” and the themes to E.T. and Jurassic Park. Out came PTX on a riser for “Sing” and walked down to the stage following with “Daft Punk” a medley of cherished Daft Punk songs 90’s kids grew up on like “Around the World,” “One More Time,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” to a song 00’s kids grew up on like “Get Lucky.” The video for “Daft Punk” has nearly 400 million views on YouTube. The set included both originals and covers. A capella is all vocals with no instruments however Kevin did something quite unique playing cello and beatboxing to Walter Murphy’s “A 5th of Beethoven,” which took Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and turned into a disco hit. There were also 9 cello players onstage. The cello group stayed for Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from A Star is Born and “Prayer” written by Diane Warren which Maldonado dedicated to her 3-month old baby girl. After the cello ensemble departed, Kevin and Matt took over for an unforgettable sing-a-long. 

Kevin and Matt’s sing-a-long consisted of songs for fans of all ages like The Temptations “My Girl,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Backstreet Boys “I Want it That Way,” Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It,” Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme, and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it Like it’s Hot.” The rest of the group rejoined for another sing-a-long of their 90’s dance medley released during the Covid-10 pandemic which includes hits all 90’s kids remember from artists that don’t perform too often at least in the U.S. like La Bouche, Haddaway, Alice Deejay, Snap!, Ace of Base, Vengaboys, Cascade, Eiffel 65 to major artists still around like Jennifer Lopez and Cher. For me that was the first time I had heard any of those songs performed live other than “Waiting for Tonight” and “Believe.” Hoying stated that this was “the most iconic night of our career” and did something I’ve never seen an artist do at the Hollywood Bowl which was grab their phone to record a video of the audience but also another with the group in front of the audience. They also had video cameras around the Bowl to capture this historic night. 

Hoying mentioned they had sung Joni Mitchell’s “River” backstage so they decided to add it in just that minute but only part of the song as the noise curfew was coming shortly. The original three members performed the song. PTX performed Stevie Wonder’s biggest selling single “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red. Matt had dedicated it to his wife. The final song before the encore was none other than Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” which there has been over 300 versions of but the most famous would probably be Jeff Buckley’s. “Hallelujah” was sung just 2 days earlier at the Forum by Violet Grohl as the first song of the Taylor Hawkins’ Tribute Concert. One more thing I had never seen, but at any show was the audience had been recorded earlier from the sing-a-along earlier in the show and the video was replayed during this part of the show. The encore was one of the greatest songs for a sing-a-along and made its way into pop culture in Wayne’s World. It was none other than Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” A choir joined in for it. 

Darren Criss Setlist:

  1. Somewhere Only We Know (Keane)
  2. Cough Syrup (Young the Giant)
  3. Hopelessly Devoted to You (Grease)
  4. Going Back to Hogwarts (A Very Potter Musical)
  5. Teenage Dream (Katy Perry)
  6. Not Alone
  7. For a Night Like This

Pentatonix Setlist:

Intro Medley

  1. Sing
  2. Daft Punk
  3. Hoying call & answer with audience
  4. Aha! (Imogen Heap)
  5. The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
  6. Evolution of Pentatonix
  7. The Lucky Ones
  8. Love Me When I Don’t
  9. Kevin’s 5th of Beethoven w/ Lil buck and cello ensemble
  10. Shallow w/ cello ensemble (Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper)
  11. Prayers w/ cello ensemble
  12. Sing-a-long with Matt and Kevin
  13. 90’s Medley
  14. River (Joni Mitchell)
  15. I Just Called (To Say I Love You)- Stevie Wonder
  16. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)


  1. Bohemian Rhapsody w/ choir (Queen)