Bangor residents know the neighborhood called the Tree Streets — it’s the part of the East Side between Pine Street and Fern Street, bisected by State, Garland and Mt. Hope, where most of the streets are named after trees. It’s pleasant, quiet, and yes — there are lots of trees.
It’s that neighborhood in which several of the members of the band that later became the Tree Streets lived when they started playing music together. One year later, the Tree Streets have kept their name and their neighborhood, and have developed a sound that combines slightly twangy alt-country with dirty garage punk. They’ll perform along with Orono garage band Great Western Plain, Portland indie group the Milkman’s Union and Belfast rockers the Class Machine on Friday, July 8, at Zen in Bangor.
Tree Streets vocalist Kat Johnson, bassist Adam Goode and guitarist Matthew Cassidy all wanted to start a band. Johnson sang in the Bangor synth-pop band Feel It Robot until 2009. Goode — also one of the three state congressional representatives for Bangor — was in Orono rock band Jack’s Wild for a number of years. Cassidy, a Bangor native and childhood friend of Goode’s who now lives in Portland, had played in Portland bands like Doublebunny and Dead End Armory.
“We were all hanging out all summer and playing music, and we really just wanted to try something out, something a little different,” said Johnson, who, when she’s not rocking out, is finishing up an intermedia Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Maine. “We have these diverse backgrounds in music and it kind of gelled.”
A few months went by, with Cassidy, Goode and Johnson writing a handful of songs. Then, in the fall, the three decided to get serious. They recruited Chris Dodd, former guitarist for Feel It Robot, to play rhythm guitar, and Goode’s friend Ryan Tipping-Spitz to play drums. In December, the band played its first show — in Cassidy’s mom’s basement.
While Dodd, Tipping-Spitz and Goode have a background in straight up rock ’n’ roll, Cassidy has performed in indie rock and alt-country bands for years, and Johnson is a lively frontwoman known for her theatrical flair. Those elements — garage rock, alt-country and an energetic stage presence — bring to mind bands such as Wilco, Blondie, the Strokes and the White Stripes. The band calls themselves “garage twang.”
“I think we’re all really inspired by the whole DIY, garage rock ethic, and I think we all love having this undercurrent of that twangy, kind of sweet alt-country vibe,” said Johnson. “And Adam and I really love to perform. Adam likes to jump off the speakers. We love that kind of thing.”
The band has played a number of shows in the Portland area, and the show on July 8 will be only their second Bangor appearance — not counting their debut basement show. Tree Streets currently are finishing up their debut EP, recorded by Bub Fournier in Waldo County, that they hope to release it in late August or September.
Goode’s colleagues in the legislature regularly come out to see him perform at Tree Streets shows. Contrary to the stereotype of the buttoned-down politician, Goode is a bearded, constantly moving rock star when he’s on stage.
“Politicians are people, too. They can rock out like the rest of us,” said Johnson. “He’s making them look cool.”
The Tree Streets will perform with Class Machine, Great Western Plain and Milkman’s Union at 9 p.m. Friday, July 8, at Zen on Main Street in Bangor. Admission is $5.
Follow Emily Burnham on Twitter at twitter.com/rockblogsterbdn.