‘America’s Got Talent’ episode 9 recap: The live shows begin with the first night of quarterfinals [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

“America’s Got Talent” entered the final phase of season 16 on Tuesday with the first live show of the summer. In this quarter-finals round, which will consist of three episodes, a dozen acts per night will perform for the judges. Judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara can still buzz an act but the real power is in the hands of the home audience, who will vote for their favorites.

On the August 10 quarterfinal of “AGT,” the line-up was led off by Sofia’s Golden Buzzer,  singer Jimmie Herrod. Two other singers — Madilyn Bailey and Peter Rosalita — perform as do a pair of stand-up comedians, Gina Brillon and Kabir Singh. Also in hunt for the season 16 championship are vocal group 1aChord, kids dance company Beyond Belief, animal tricks act Canine Stars, the band Gangstagrass, escape artist Matt Johnson,  physical comic Sethward and magician Dustin Tavella.

SEE Where are the first 15 ‘America’s Got Talent’ winners now: Find out what happened to your favorites

Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “America’s Got Talent” Season 16 Episode 9 in our minute-by-minute blog.

8:01 p.m. – After the departure last season to film the live episodes from Hollywood Studios, the show is finally back in the Dolby Theater this season, and with a live audience. Straight off the top Terry reminds us that of tonight’s 11 performing acts, only 7 will advance to the semifinals. This is gonna be lit! Let’s go.

8:04 p.m. – Up first was The Canine Stars, kicking their act off by impersonating the judges in a comedy bit that fell mostly flat. Luckily they transitioned into a more expected showcase of tricks with their trainers, not all of which were successfully pulled off but still managed to keep the crowd hyped. Howie and Heidi both agreed that they stepped up their performance quality from their audition and Simon thought this one was clever.

8:15 p.m. – 10 year old Peter Rosalita returned to the stage to sing the Whitney Houston power ballad “I Have Nothing.” Though the lyrics of unrequited love might be well beyond his years, he blew the roof off the Dolby when he hit the huge notes of the chorus with complete perfection. Heidi told Peter that he did Whitney proud and Sofia said that his command of the stage was breathtaking. Simon was amazed by his determination, but asked him to pick a song more age appropriate in the next round.

8:26 p.m. – The Texans Beyond Belief Dance Company led by Alyssa Edwards was up next for their chance to earn a spot in the semis. Their fashion boutique themed routine was high energy and showed a wide range of technical skills. Heidi and Simon both stood in an ovation for the group, noting that their talent is indisputable and that they have a ton of personality. Simon went as far as to say that they showed they’re worthy of being in the finals.

8:35 p.m. – Up next was Madilyn Bailey who you might remember turned social media hate comments into an original song for her audition. Tonight she chose a cover instead, Sia’s “Titanium.” For a big Sia song, Madilyn kept the first verse of her rendition relatively low-key while playing for the piano, but amped up the power of her voice for a much bigger finish. On the panel, only Simon stood to clap and called it “absolutely brilliant.” Howie detracted a little, preferring the quirkiness of her original song that made her stand out from the pack of many amazing singers in the competition. Heidi was on Howie’s side of the argument, noting that she got to the lives based on an original and so to switch to a cover was a risky choice.

8:44 p.m. – Always inspired by his mom and Indian heritage, comedian Kabir Singh was next up for his latest set. He kicked it off with anecdotes about his mom learning to text message and transitioned into how Siri is only usable by people without accents. Howie was Kabir’s biggest fan, calling him relatable despite being so specific to his own culture. Heidi and Sofia agreed with Howie, specifically loving his relationship to his mom and for making fun of himself at the same time.

8:55 p.m. – Next was the magician that follows his heart and his family, Dustin Tavella. For his card trick he brought Howie on stage to mix up the deck and then spread the cards out on the table. Surprisingly, the way the cards were spread on the table matched exactly the predictions that were already printed in a book on the table and cards hidden under the seats of the audience. Heidi said that like all magic acts she’s always saying “wow how did he do that?” but with Dustin his story as a father brings so much more to it. Sofia and Simon went further to say that the storytelling is what draws people in and makes it clear that he’s doing what he’s meant to be doing.

SEE ‘America’s Got Talent’ judges rankings: All 13 judges ranked from worst to best

9:08 p.m. – Trio 1aChord found each other by chance, but came together through their shared love of music. Tonight they performed their version of “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. With their harmonizing and gospel background they were able to turn the song on its head and make it sound completely different than the original. For the first time tonight, all four judges stood for an ovation in full support of the group. Sofia called them a combination of gospel singers and rock stars, predicting that they’ll do really well in the competition. Simon called it the best performance of the night because the leads and harmonizing have skyrocketed them since their first audition.

9:18 p.m.Gina Brillon was the second comedian of the night, similarly determined to build a successful career for her family. Tonight she delivered a set focused on the women she grew up around in the Bronx, mixing teasing with love which she attributed to Latino culture. As the only judge to not stand for Gina, he “sensed a lot of nerves” and didn’t think it was better than her first audition. Heidi, Sofia and Howie all disagreed, saying that all of her hard work as paid off.

9:28 p.m. – On stage next was Gangstagrass, the band that mixes bluegrass with hip hop music. Tonight their inspirational song incorporated two full rap verses along bluegrass instrumentation and choruses. Howie maintained that the group is “what America needs,” but pulled back from that in saying that he thinks the idea of the band is better than the actual music. Heidi and Sofia were shocked by Howie’s critique and stressed that their uniqueness speaks for itself.

9:37 p.m. – Making it to the lives finally after multiple auditions, Sethward chose a peacock costume as his big idea for the night. With a plume half the size of the stage, there wasn’t much to Sethward’s performance aside from stumbling around different parts of the set. Simon hit his X quickly as Heidi and Sofia looked on in disbelief. Even a transition to a flying phoenix at the end didn’t impress any of the judges to the point of complimenting him. Heidi said she laughed, but wasn’t sure why and was left ultimately confused.

9:44 p.m. – Prior to danger act Matt Johnson taking the stage for his latest escape, Terry warned us not to try it at home. Luckily I don’t think anyone has the guillotine-like apparatus that Matt used tonight in their garage! Chained to a platform, Matt used a lock pick to escape the chains before a chainsaw could drop down through a set of wooden bars to his head. Like all acts in this genre, Matt came dangerously close to not making it out in time, but through his horrifying screams he did. Simon thought the screams he made throughout the act were over the top and “hammy” and Sofia looked legitimately terrified that he keeps attempting these acts.

9:55 p.m. – For the final performance of the night, Sofia’s Golden Buzzer choice Jimmie Herrod came to the stage for his version of “Pure Imagination” by Gene Wilder. Like his audition of “Tomorrow,” the song was pure Broadway styling, but here it created its own atmosphere entirely different from what we know from “Willy Wonka.” As with “Tomorrow,” all of the judges were on their feet to applaud Jimmie’s song and no one was more proud than Sofia, calling him a star. Simon said that he’s the kind of performer that you can never forget and Heidi called him “the million dollar act.”

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