[RELUCTANT FOLK] David Evan might be new to Portland's music scene, having relocated less than a year ago from snowy, isolated Vermont, but his artistic vision is clear: "I want to make more noise!" he blurts out with an itchy mix of anxiety and eagerness. "I keep breaking strings because I'm playing this acoustic guitar, and I just...want it to be louder."
Though he mutters "acoustic" as if it were the dirtiest of swear words and balks visibly at the term "singer-songwriter," Evan has spent the past eight months carrying the cross of folkdom. The 31-year-old has been spreading his quirky tunes around town with just his voice, a six-string Ibanez, computer-burned demos and the goal to one day plug in and really play his songs—in all their loud, layered, "we're talking piano, cello and violin" glory.
This direction can be heard clearly on Evan's soon-to-be-released full-length, Beta. An arsenal of instruments—gut-probing bass, echo-laden electric guitars, headily complex drumbeats and unidentifiable soundmakers (is that saw, oboe or whales crying?)—accompany Evan's reverberating, science fiction-meets-sea shanty voice. Over the commotion, he sings earnestly about "everyday" topics like the box-car adventures of a rejected half-boy, half-chicken circus freak; blood-sucking vampires from Los Angeles; space aliens that vacation on Earth to get it on with humans; or the love trials of a rogue mercenary assassin named Dindon Fontaine.
"I'm not writing songs to be understood," Evan says, explaining why a love song, for him, might involve a man singing to the manatee at his boat's helm rather than a beautiful woman. "I'm all about atmosphere, and leaving it open to interpretation for people to experience, to react. I'm all about creating a little world." He adds with a quick smile, "I'm essentially an escapist."
Contributing to this manic musical atmosphere, former Vermonter bandmate Chris Farnsworth (who co-wrote several of the songs on Beta) will join Evan in the new year. Having recruited several talented local instrumentalists to back him, as well, Evan's "little world" is slowly starting to match his vision.
"I've been in bands since I was 15, " he says matter-of-factly. "It's all I've ever wanted to do...," he trails off, then responds stronger, louder: "It's still all I want to do."
David Evan plays Thursday, Jan. 3, with the Gentry and the Hand That Bleeds at Kelly's Olympian. 9 pm. $3. 21+. Also Friday, Jan. 4, at the Green Room. 11:30 pm. $5. 21+.