Arts concert review

A character well-developed

Evann McIntosh showcases their personality on ‘Character Development’ tour

9693 soniaconcert
Singer Evann McIntosh performs with their band at Sonia in Cambridge October 27.
Victoria Dzieciol–The Tech

Evann McIntosh
Oct. 27

It’s been a long, difficult year without live music. I had two concerts cancelled due to COVID-19, and the few virtual shows I tried to watch from my room just weren’t the same. So when my Spotify finally started showing me recommended concerts again, I bought tickets to, well, around ten concerts.

One of those ten was Evann McIntosh (they/them), a 17-year-old indie-R&B artist who recently released their new album “Character Development.” My best description for Evann is “the fun, artsy kid you wish you were friends with.” With close-cropped platinum hair and a cool sense of style, they look like the embodiment of the word “indie.”

As far as concerts go, this one was pretty casual. Beyond some colored lights, the intimate venue didn’t have much in the way of visual effects, and the stage held nothing but a microphone and instruments for the band. Evann was also dressed casually — in a crew neck sweater and oversized t-shirt, they could have been any trendy-fashionable teenager. But the instant that Evann began to sing, their sheer talent made any extras feel unnecessary. The artist started many songs off slowly, allowing their sultry, emotion-soaked vocals to fill the room. They danced and mimed the lyrics as they sang, putting on a show that fit perfectly into their “cool kid” persona. A couple songs featured longer instrumental parts during which Evann performed a choreographed dance with the guitarists or paused to let the band members showcase their skills. Though most of their songs were too relaxed to really rile up the crowd, Evann’s music had audience members swaying, bobbing their heads, waving their hands, and occasionally clapping to the beat.

In addition to their voice, Evann put their personality on display during their performance through lots of crowd interaction. They showed off their kind side with an inspirational speech during “Do U Mind?” and a quick break in the program to sing “Happy Birthday” to a fan. The singer replied to what audience members yelled out and even held full conversations with people in the crowd. Between songs, Evann showed off the crystals (or in their words, “rocks”) they had brought in their pocket. At one point, several audience members offered up their rings to the singer, which they accepted and wore for the rest of the concert. Evann joked about being too young to drink and exchanged quips with the audience — once even laughing so hard at what someone said that they couldn’t speak.

In the intimate venue, it felt like Evann was performing for a group of their friends. This did mean, however, that there were pretty long breaks in between each song while Evann had conversations or fooled around. While I loved Evann’s personality and found the show refreshingly real, I could also see how some people — especially those who weren’t die-hard fans — may have found the breaks between songs to be a bit too long and dull.

And while Evann did an incredible job showing off their voice, this did result in them deviating from the exact cadence and even occasionally lyrics of their recorded songs to add some improvisation or flair. It was impressive at first, but as they continued to do this throughout every song, it started to be a bit much. As a frequent listener of Evann’s music, I found myself caught off guard when I was expecting to hear one thing and instead got another. And I wasn’t the only one — at a few points, I could hear the audience singing out of sync with Evann as they stuck to the recorded version they knew. If I had never heard the songs before, I no doubt would have loved them, but in this case knowledge was a bit of a disadvantage. This was a very person-centered concert. It wasn’t so much about the show or even the music — it was about appreciating the fun, talented person who made it.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and absolutely loved the music, but my biggest takeaway from this concert is that I definitely do wish I was friends with Evann McIntosh.