The sold out crowd at the Theater of Living Arts pulled up to the ‘funktion,’ Nov. 3. That is, they came out to see boy band PrettyMuch’s “Funktion Tour.” It was a very excited and devoted crowd, loudly singing along to both the main act and opener.
The opener was Gunnar Gehl. He’s a new 17-year-old pop singer who got his start on the Internet. He just officially released his first single in October, yet has managed to amass over 200 thousand followers on Instagram. His music definitely finds inspiration in the work of Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, both of whom he covered in a medley along with Khalid and Juice Wrld.
His performance was strong for a new act. Gehl knew how to work the crowd and got the fans to sing along to songs they’d never heard. I’m sure we will be hearing more from and about him soon.
The main act of the night was PrettyMuch. Out of the new groups that have cropped up to replace One Direction, PrettyMuch is my favorite.The boy band was formed back in 2016 after an exhaustive talent search by Simon Cowell’s Syco Music and Columbia Records. Since then, the band members have lived together, honed their skills and worked to grow a following.
The band is made up of five members all between the ages of 18 and 21. The group consists of Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Austin Porter, Nick Mara and Zion Kuwonu. It’s a diverse group, and one that obviously puts the work in. This was their second show in Philly, having previously sold out at The Foundry.
PrettyMuch’s set was high energy. The boys were singing their bouncy hooks while dancing around in tightly choreographed formations. Their songs are a smooth blend of pop and modern hip hop with strong beats to dance to. If the crowd wasn’t dancing themselves, they were watching the stylish street dance moves from the guys on stage.
Speaking of style, PrettyMuch have some extreme hipster sensibilities. Honoret was bouncing around the stage in an orange hi vis safety vest with matching camouflage cargo pants, and Arreaga started the show in a crisp white turtleneck topped with some article that looked a lot like a bulletproof vest.
What intrigues me most about the group’s music is the vocal arrangement. This is best exemplified in their track “Open Arms,” which the group performed about halfway through the show. It opens a capella and has these lavish harmonies that really please the ear. It was amazing to see them pull this off live and Mara really impressed with his belting vocals leading out of the bridge.
The group also performed two unreleased songs that they just wrote before going on tour. One of them was called “Denim On Patrol” and had a great groove and bass line. I’m looking forward to hearing the studio version.
The set was short — just under an hour — but strong. Considering they don’t have an album out yet, there isn’t much more that could have been expected. They had a couple gimmicks throughout the show that were cheesy, but it was mostly a polished and professional performance. I look forward to seeing them and their slick dance moves in the future.