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Pentatonix in Concert - Los Angeles

From left: Matt Sallee, Mitch Grassi, Kevin Olusola, Scott Hoying and Kirstin Maldonado of Pentatonix perform May 16, 2019, in Inglewood, Calif.

Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

If you’re a fan of Pentatonix, you’ve probably seen the popular a cappella act at the Fox Theatre, Chaifetz Arena, Stifel Theatre (then Peabody Opera House) or opening for Kelly Clarkson at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. But fans will see the group as never before when it headlines Sunday at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.

This weekend’s show will be the Grammy-winning group’s biggest yet in the St. Louis area.

Kevin Olusola, beatboxer, vocalist and occasional cello player, says that, of all the Pentatonix tours, the group is most excited about this one.

Pentatonix at Fox Theatre

Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix performs for a sold-out crowd at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. Photo by Jon Gitchoff

“This is the one we all love,” Olusola says. “This has the coolest production we’ve ever done, and I feel like the production really suits our vibe.”

On the previous tour, he says, they decided to switch things up and add choreography. Though it was fun, it distracted fans from what they came to see.

“It’s cool to have a set and production now that accents what we do vocally,” Olusola says. “It’s just super fun, and you get to hear real singing.”

Pentatonix fans love the “Evolution” portion of the group’s shows — such as “Evolution of Beyoncé,” “Evolution of Michael Jackson” and “Evolution of Music” — in which several songs are creatively worked into a mega medley. Now, the group is doing “Evolution of Ariana Grande.”


From left: Matt Sallee, Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado and Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix

Photo by Jiro Schneider

The group members are big fans of Grande. “Talk about vocals for days — just absolutely incredible,” Olusola says. “There’s so many big songs. It was a challenge to do her songs, they’re all hard, but ‘Evolution of Music’ was the most difficult for us because they weren’t songs we all know naturally. Some of them require different vocal styles from the music we normally do.”

The group is also performing the timely, and timeless, “Bohemian Rhapsody” in concert. It has been singing the Queen classic since 2017.

“It’s one of our absolute favorite songs,” Olusola says. “We had put it off for years because we didn’t know if was possible for a five-person vocal group to replicate such a massive sound. But we said, ‘Let’s at least try.’ It’s cool how the fans reacted. Our fan base spans so many decades.”

Pentatonix has also added its version of the Oscar- and Grammy-winning song “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. “The movie (‘A Star Is Born’) was such a huge moment in time for pop culture — such a classic time. We felt like for our fan base, including show-choir geeks, it was something they would love and participate in.”

Pentatonix is working on new, original music for its next album and figuring out which of the songs they love the most. The project will be the follow-up to “PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. 1.”

New to the Pentatonix fold is Matt Sallee, who replaces Avi Kaplan, who left in 2017. Olusola says Sallee brings a particular joy and spirit to the group.

“It’s so incredible when he sings — when he dances,” he says. “We feel we’re already a pretty joyful band, but he adds so much to that. He’s like a brother to me. We have a moment onstage, a bass and beatbox duo moment.”

Pentatonix in Concert - Los Angeles

From left: Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola and Mitch Grassi of Pentatonix perform May 16 in Inglewood, Calif.

Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

In the midst of nonstop touring and recording with Pentatonix, Olusola also is furthering his solo act, known as KO, which he started in 2015 with “The Renegade EP.”

“I’m ever growing and evolving, something I’ve been working on since 2015,” he says. “It feels like I’ve been working on it all my life.” Though he started out beatboxing and playing cello, he learned to arrange and produce with Pentatonix and carried that over to his solo career.

He also learned to sing more, something he augmented with vocal lessons.

“I realized I had something to say,” he says, which he explains is different from the music of Pentatonix. That’s been the case every time someone from the group releases a side project. “It’s cool to finally understand myself and where my heart lies.”

His latest single is a cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” a song that especially resonates with him. Simone is one of his favorite artists.

“She’s one of those people who felt art needs to reflect the times. That’s one of the reasons I chose the song,” he says. “From my situation as an African American person in the U.S., people may look at me and think a certain thing without getting to know me. I’m of Nigerian and Caribbean heritage. I went to Yale. What you see is not what you think you’re getting. And I hope that’s how my music continues to hit people.”

What Pentatonix, Rachel Platten • When 7:30 p.m. Sunday • Where Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights • How much $19-$129 • More info