Their vocals are tight. So are their pants.
Those who watched “The Sing Off,” or “Glee” even, shouldn’t be surprised at the built-in swoon moment in Mo5aic’s show, when Roopak Ahuja sings “Sexual Healing” to a female audience recruit parked on a stool.
If you weren’t paying attention, it may still come as a surprise that a cappella singing has moved from nerd club to the gym. If you start towel-snapping the five pumped-up singers of Mo5aic, you better be ready for a swirlie in return.
I wouldn’t say the Las Vegas vocal quintet has completely erased all traces to its beginnings in Florida theme parks. But no one snickers when the lads harmonize on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” maybe because they quote a little “Jungle Boogie” in the middle of it.
The group was early to the a cappella revival. They won “MTV’s Top Pop Group” in 2008, while they were honing their stagecraft as part of their three years in comedian George Wallace’s show at the Flamingo.
Now they’re going at it on their own at the LVH’s Shimmer Cabaret. It could be a great break-in venue for them to cross that elusive space between the cruise ships and dry land.
Sure, you can question whether there is a difference. Aren’t the cruise ships basically floating casinos? Aren’t the people who come to Vegas the same ones who go on cruises?
So maybe Mo5aic will be quite welcome here. Their versatile showcase appeals to a wide range of ages. The encore alone segues from “Party Rock” and “Gangnam Style” to “Dance to the Music” without missing a beat.
If there’s not much surprise in what they do, the way they do it is still a uniquely live experience.
Early on, say with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” you marvel at Jake Moulton as the human drum machine and Josh Huslig as the rhythmic bedrock. Before long the novelty of no instruments wears off and you just start listening as you would to any other music, shifting focus to the lead vocals of Ahuja and Heath Burgett.
The song list covers all the bases, adding a couple of contemporary pop songs with adult appeal — such as Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are” — to a Manhattan Transfer-ish version of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and a showstopping finale in Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Still, in the early going at least, the set seemed almost too scattered, and a little disconnected. Do these guys really like all these songs? Or are they doing what they think people want to hear? The sum of the parts don’t quite add up to a whole, at least not with the same finesse that each singer’s voice layers into a larger sound.
The group members come off almost like they’re on autopilot, not really telling us much about who they are. Audience participation bits are a good fit for the cozy room, but made me think back to the more creative comedy of Toxic Audio, another a cappella group that twice attempted a Vegas residency.
Still, Mo5aic is a strong group offering something new in town, and it’s hard to imagine anyone really not liking a showcase so carefully designed for general audiences. But just as five individuals came together and at some point found their sound, maybe they need just a little time to find their show.
They can talk about it at the gym.
Contact Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.