Singing Sensations

JieJie and I went to the Market Street Allen USA Celebration 2014 event on Saturday. We got there early enough to get a decent spot on the park lawn, just behind and to the side of the sound & video crew tent. Close enough to see the stage, but not too close to get our ears blown out from the loudspeakers. We took on the drive and crowds for the headlining group, a Capella sensations, Pentatonix, winners of season three of NBC’s The Sing Off. Three of the five members grew up together in the DFW area, so this was somewhat a ‘hometown’ performance.

Smile!  I asked you to smile!
Smile! I asked you to smile!

In the above photo you can see the stage, and the video board just by JieJie’s forehead (which they raised higher before Pentatonix’s performance). In the upper right you can see the light blue T-shirts of the event crew, controlling one of the cameras and the sound system. The sharp-eyed can also see the left side camera operator in front of the video screen.

JieJie enjoyed what was happening on stage, and we also wandered around the park, checking out the various booths and stuff (didn’t bother with activities, $$). She liked the opening band, Chinatown, though we still don’t know why they call themselves that. That band was really good, though they had a bunch of stuff loaded up on tracks (no live bassist?). Then, about 5 minutes before Pentatonix was scheduled to start, JieJie said she needed to go to the restroom.  What?! In the sea of some 90,000 people (largest attendance yet for this event)?!

Okay, so we get up and hustle over to the park’s restrooms, and get a bit concerned when we see the line that goes out of the women’s restroom. Then as the crowd of people continues to shift and move, we realize that the line wasn’t just out the door, but past the men’s restroom and beyond the far side of the structure! This is not gonna work. So we hustle at a near run to the far side of the park to the porta-potties along side the road. Good, no line there.

Hustling back, weaving through the crowd, police and event organizers are redirecting people away from the front third of the area, saying that it’s too full/crowded for any more people. But apparently to them we look like we know where we’re going and we walk right past them and return to our stuff on the lawn without incident just as Pentatonix was starting their first song (they started a few minutes late). Whew!

Unfortunately, although everyone was sitting down throughout the day, when Pentatonix started, everyone stood up! What was a clear view became a sea of bodies obscuring the stage! Especially with the very tall teenagers two ‘rows’ directly in front of us. I could just barely see the stage, but poor JieJie was struggling on her tiptoes to see between the bodies.

PTX1

PTX2The Pentatonix ‘keyboard’ display behind them was quite cool, multi-colored lights that rippled and moved in all of the ‘keys’ in time with their singing. (click on the thumbnail photos for larger versions of the photos – yay zoom lens. The ‘keyboard’ wasn’t yet lit up in these photos.)

As a audio/visual person, I couldn’t help but pay attention to the technical aspects of the event. I love Avi Kaplan’s deep bass vocals – but the sound system was giving us just very loud low-end rumbling ‘mud’ when he was singing just notes. Yuck, yuck, yuck! 🙁 When he was speaking or singing lyrics, then the system really sounded great, showing off his amazing voice. Meanwhile, it was apparent that the video people weren’t familiar with Pentatonix’s songs, as they often focused on the wrong person at the wrong moments during their songs. arg.

Because of how late the event ran, and the long drive home, we left immediately after Pentatonix was done, skipping the next group and the fireworks. It was then that JieJie realized how large 90,000 people was, as we worked our way out of the park. The front half of the park (towards the stage) was a thick sea of people. The back half of the park was completely empty when we arrived. It was now quite crowded with people even though it was too far away to even see the stage or video board (still great for the fireworks).

JieJie enjoyed herself, and talked and asked questions for most of the drive home. It’s been many years since I’ve had to negotiate such large crowds and musical events, yet it all worked out quite smoothly even though we parked farther away than we needed to for how early we got there.

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