PureAGT Season 8 Audition Round Rundown #4 – New York/L.A. Auditions

Well, as I told jimmbboe on Twitter – looks like they made up for last week’s lack of bad auditions by loading this week’s episode up with them ūüôĀ And boy were there some weird ones…

…in addition to that, this week was the first time where the judges put an act through to Vegas that made me go “REALLY?! Them???” But my beloved Heidi made up for the snafu by giving the most adorable pronunciation of the word “mediocre” that I’ve ever heard…sounded like “meaty okah”.¬† ūüôā

New York auditions are up now; look for the L.A. audition rundown later today ūüôā

New York:

Struck Boyz – ages 8-11, from Staten Island, NY
The act:¬†They did a hip-hop dance to “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber.
The verdict:¬†Judges loved¬†their attack and commitment to the dance and gave them 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: Yeah, they were pretty good for all being adolescent boys – they seemed to stay in sync really well, and had a good stage presence.¬† But it felt to me like they were just kind of regurgitating choreography they had been given, and the choreography wasn’t particularly unique or at a high skill-level…and it was to BIEBER.¬† Guess I’m just getting¬†a bit tired of young boys throwing on a tank top and a Bieber song and getting the little girlies to scream for them as they gyrate – I respond to bona fide talent, not gimmicky Bieber impersonations.¬† I thought these guys were adorable, but I think once they get to Vegas and the judges see them up against some of the other dance acts this season, they’ll likely pale in comparison.

B-Extreme
The act: Three breakdancers doing a series of tricks and rolls over and around one another.
The verdict: Judges put them through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: We only saw a brief clip of these guys, but they did seem very talented – they seem to know breaking really well.¬† But here’s their problem: they’re up against another crew of 3 hip-hop guys (Hype) that know breaking, too…and a slew of other styles, and they arguably have the better stage presence, too.¬† I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw these guys and Hype pitted against one another in Vegas…with the latter advancing.

Kristef Brothers Рages 24 & 26, from Las Vegas
The act:¬†They’re 2nd generation “hand balancers” – they basically do an acrobalance act that is based primarily on hand-to-hand¬†holds. They also felt the¬†need to¬†doff their clothes for their performance.
The verdict:¬†All Heidi could muster was an “Mmmm, mmmm, MMMM! It’s a yes for me!”…before they even voted ūüėõ The other 3 said yes as well, though, and we’ll see them in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: No doubt these guys have talent – they were doing some seriously cool stuff out there.¬† But once again, I found myself comparing them unfavorably to another acrobalance act this season: Duo Resonance, whom we saw in San Antonio in episode 2.¬† I feel like Duo Resonance had a more polished performance, and were doing tricks with a higher level of difficulty; however, I do think Kristef had a bit more stage presence, and seemed to engage the audience more.¬† My only gripe? The stripping down to undies towards the end seemed¬†a bit odd (and unnecessary) to me.¬† Once again, I can already see Vegas week shaping up in my head – and I see these two going toe-to-toe with Duo Resonance for a spot in the live shows.

Aneya Marie Рage 25
The act: She’s a singing mime…yeeeeah.
The verdict:¬†Buzzes¬†and¬†“no’s” galore.¬† She also managed to insult the audience’s intelligence when they booed her.
Court’s thoughts: This lady seemed crazier than a bag of cats – I think the fact that she even made any noise pretty much precluded her referring to herself as a “mime”, and she kept insisting that audiences in Europe “loved her”.¬† This is one of those acts that I have to wonder if they really do know how bad they are…and they’ll just do anything to get on television.

“Dudes Jousting on Unicycles” The Flying Slovenski Brothers
The act: Self-explanatory – two guys riding around on unicycles, trying to knock each other off with lances.
The verdict: No’s and buzzes all around.
Court’s thoughts: This seems like something a bunch of engineering majors might do in college for fun…but it’s no million-dollar act.

“Guys Rapping About Elephants”The Jolley Brothers
The act: They were two guys…singing what I can only assume was an original song about “dropping it like an elephant elevator” (apparently I’m really deaf…).
The verdict: Ummm…no.
Court’s thoughts: It was no “B-O-O-T-Y”.

“Lady with a Cat Riding Around in a Car”
The act: A lady dressed in what looked like an Elvira costume…with a cat riding around her in a little car.
The verdict: Judges didn’t get it and said no to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: That poor cat looked as bewildered and confused as I did, trying to figure out what this act was about.

“Couple Wearing Chicken Costumes”A Tall Order
The act: A guy & a girl dancing around in chicken costumes.
The verdict: No…duh.
Court’s thoughts: It just blows my mind sometimes with the acts people come up with…and sometime’s that’s not a good thing.

Hammerstep Рages 18-30, from Brooklyn, NY
The act: They performed and Irish step dancing/hip-hop fusion dance to an edgy song while wearing gas masks.
The verdict: Judges loved the creative fusion of the two styles and praised the group’s high skill level.¬† 4 yes’s to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Upon hearing that they were fusing hip-hop with step dancing, I thought for sure they were gonna bomb.¬† But this was actually pretty cool to watch – you can tell that everyone in the group has received pretty extensive Irish step dancing training, but have also taken up hip-hop and effectively found a way to mesh the two styles together.¬† This is the 2nd Irish step dancing group we’ve seen this season (the first being The Academy from episode 1), and I’d put money on it that Hammerstep is the one we’ll see advancing to the live shows.

Bones and the Machine
The act: They performed a “bone-breaking” hip-hop routine with all sorts of contortions and eerie-looking tricks.
The verdict: Judges put them through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Nice to see another “bone-breakin'” hip hop act since Turf last season – and I liked that they found a way to incorporate partnering as well.

The Rock Dance Project Рfrom Philadelphia, PA
The act: A ballet/jazz/modern fusion dance group that was doing some lifts and other artistic steps.
The verdict: They’re through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: I really wished they had showed more of this act, because the little I saw was just STUNNING.¬† Lots of pas des deux work, gorgeous pirouttes, and crazy jumps.¬† If the judges can embrace the true artistry of what they’re doing, I think we’ll see them in the live shows.

Leon Etienne Рfrom Utica, NY
The
act: He’s an illusionist that made a girl appear in an empty box, then managed to do a quick switch out with her while he was chained to a board; he also managed to predict a card picked by Nick, and had the card appear on his female assistant’s leotard when Nick squirted her with a squirt gun.
The verdict: Judges gave him 4 yes’s.
Court’s thoughts: He’s got some serious magic skills, but I found myself thinking that his overall presentation was just a bit frantic and discombobulated.¬† Seemed like he was trying to fit as many tricks into one audition as possible, and as a result, he seemed to rush from trick to trick, and fumbled a bit over his delivery. He seemed to lack a bit of the finesse and stage presence we saw from Special Head and Collins Key.¬† Will be interesting to see how he’ll measure up to the other magicians in Vegas.

“11-year-old breakdancer”Lil Demon
The act: Adorable 11-year-old boy who was doing all sorts of breakdancing tricks.
The verdict: We’ll see him in Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: He’s definitely one of the stronger kid dancers we’ve seen this season, but I worry about his versatility.¬† He may be a great breakdancer, but we may be seeing the same thing from him over & over.

“Jazz dancers in colorful costumes”Studio 19 Dance Complex
The act: Jazz/ballet dancers in rainbow-colored costumes, doing a jazz/ballet-type dance.
The verdict: Judges loved it and put them through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Wasn’t wild about the costumes, but I thought the dancing looked good.¬† Will be interested to see what they bring to Vegas.

Sophia Lucia – age 10, from San Diego, CA
The act: She’s a jazz dancer that performed a solo routine with a mind-blowing number of pirouttes and other turns.
The verdict: She’s through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: If Sophia looks familiar, it’s because she’s been just about everywhere on dance TV – she’s been on Dance Moms, and most recently, she performed on Dancing with the Stars as the current world record holder for the number of pirouttes done in succession…and she also appeared in Jacoby Jones’ freestyle during this season’s finale of DWTS.¬† I think she’s adorable and an amazing dancer – but I wonder if she’ll be versatile enough for the judges.¬† A lot of her routines seem to hinge around her ability to do an insane number of turns and spins.¬† Can she branch out she show more of her other dance skills?

Isaiah “Izzy” O’Neal & Aaralyn O’Neal – ages 9 & 6
The act: Izzy played the drums while Aaralyn sang a death metal song called “Zombie Skin”.
The verdict: Mel said no, citing the fact that the little girl’s voice sounded like it was going to give out; the other 3 judges said yes.
Court’s thoughts: Ok, I agree with Mel on this one: what were the other 3 judges thinking??? While I think it’s amusing to see an adorable little girl singing death metal in a growling voice, I don’t think it’s particularly “talented” or could comprise an entire Vegas show.¬† I really just think these two are probably Vegas cannon fodder.

The Virginia State University Gospel Chorale – from Petersburg, VA
The act: They’re a gospel choir that sang a rousing number with choreography.
The verdict: Judges loved them and said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Methinks the American Military Spouses Choir just got some staunch competition – THIS is what I wish I had heard from them last week.¬† This group is polished, energetic, and has the performance quality and all-around talent that I had wanted to see from the other group last week.¬† Loved the fact that those not singing lead weren’t just swaying & humming in the background – their voices were like a wall of harmonious sound, and their choreography made them seem like they had a pulse.¬† Very engaging; very much an act I’d like to see in the¬† live shows.

Los Angeles:

Chris Antes
The act:¬†He’s an “oral sculptor” – translation: he shapes gum in his mouth.¬† He¬†tried to make a dolphin &¬†a snail out of¬†two pieces of gum.
The verdict:¬†It was a pretty loose definition of a snail and a dolphin…and the judges weren’t buying¬†it.¬† No’s all around.
Court’s thoughts:¬†If nothing else, he was a convivial guy – seemed nice enough.¬† He just had a talent that¬†really wasn’t a talent ūüėõ

Sunflower State
The act:¬†They’re a folk music 4-some that performed an original song.
The verdict:¬†The judges commented that it wasn’t a particularly good original song and said no to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts:¬†Meh…just MEH.

Brandon & Savannah – ages 15 & 13, from Boca Raton, FL
The act: They’re a brother-sister team that sang an original song called “All the Runaways” with their band.
The verdict: Heidi, Howard, & Howie all loved the song, while Mel didn’t think it was great – but they all agreed that Brandon & Savannah had talent and said yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Now while I think Paul Thomas Mitchell and Tone the Chiefrocca still jointly hold the title for “best original song this season”, I actually did enjoy this song – was catchy and suited the duo well. Both Brandon and Savannah have great voices and great stage presence, and they seem like they’re very marketable – especially to the Disney crowd. I think we’ll see them in the live shows.

Taylor Williamson – age 26, from San Diego, CA
The act: He’s an “awkward comedian” that mused on such topics as Chinese food, grandparents, and duvets.
The verdict: Judges loved his unique brand of humor and put him through to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Loved this guy – loved his awkward delivery, and the way he worked in little mini-jokes even when he was just conversing with the judges. He reminded me a lot of that Jacob guy from last season (comedian whose last name I can’t remember), but less droll. He’s the first real competition I’ve seen for Angela Hoover so far this season – and I think there’s a good chance that both will make it to the live shows.

Jacob Calle
The act: He’s a self-described “party stunt man” that did a trick where he swallowed a string and then pulled it out of his stomach through his skin, and then tried to blow bubbles…with an emperor scorpion in his mouth.
The verdict: Judges said no.
Court’s thoughts: What a disjointed and pointless mess. He could have actually had a good act, after leading off with the string trick, but the bubbles & scorpion bit? Total hot mess. I think the fact that the scorpion stung him and left him with a bleeding lip just added insult to injury…or injury to insult…whatever.

Johnny Tong – from Burbank, CA
The act: He lights his own farts on fire, with and assist from his…well, assistant.
The verdict: Judges said no…and then Johnny proceeded to beg and plead and shuffle cards onto his crotch in an effort to appease Heidi. Nick had to remove him from the stage with a stick.
Court’s thoughts: Ok, I’ll admit: I did have to chuckle and the fart-lighting. But Nick did too, so I must be at least semi-normal ūüėõ But I wouldn’t pay $70 to see it in Vegas, and something about this guy seemed…chemically-dependent.

Shawn McMaster
The act: He had Nick pick a card out of a stack, and then proceeded to strip down to a leotard…which had the card Nick picked printed on the front.
The verdict: It’s a no to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: It could have been a cool trick – if the delivery hadn’t been so lame.

Naathan Phan
The act: He attempted to escape from a straight jacket, while singing “I Want to Break Free”. Then he did a trick where he had the judges pick a card, then shoved the entire deck in his mouth, wiggled most of the cards out, and produced the card they picked…folded in quarters inside his mouth.
The verdict: Heidi & Howard buzzed him, but Howie & Mel liked his initial act. After Heidi gave him the opportunity to perform a different trick, he redeemed himself with the card trick and won over Heidi & Howard to move on to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Maybe it was the fact that he looked Asian but had a wicked Scottish accent, maybe it was the fact that he sang as he escaped the straight jacket, maybe it was the cool card-in-the-mouth trick that he did on-the-fly – whatever it was, I thought this guy was fascinating. If he can avoid the pitfalls of tricks that fall flat, I think he could be great on the live shows.

Forte – ages 22-33, from Puerto Rico, South Korea, and New York
The act: Fernando, Hana, & Josh are 3 guys that met online only days prior to actually performing “Dominus Requiem” as an opera trio.
The verdict: Judges were spellbound and gave an emphatic yes to Vegas.
Court’s thoughts: Who said Craigslist was only for selling furniture and arranging illicit rendezvous? ūüėõ I think these guys seriously hit the jackpot in finding each other – the way their voices blended together, I would have believed it if they had told me they had been singing together for years. Just this gorgeous, harmonious wall of sound. I think the classical singers category just got a lot more competitive – because I’d put money on it that Forte will make the live shows.

Now let’s hear your thoughts on this week’s auditions! Who are you most excited to see again?