When we last checked in with the Bangor indie rock band the Tree Streets (pictured at left), back in July of 2011, they were a five-piece band playing what they called “garage twang.” In the ensuing eight months, they’ve undergone a relatively bold transition — dropping down to a four-piece, after guitarist Matt Cassidy left the band, and shifting from an alt-country sound to something a lot more rock n’ roll.
“We definitely decided to revamp our approach and our style and do something different,” said Chris Dodd, lead guitarist for the band, which also features drummer Ryan Tipping-Spitz, bassist Adam Goode and vocalist Kat Johnson. “It’s now pretty strictly a collaboration. We all bring ideas to the table and work on it together to write the songs. These are Tree Streets songs, all the way.”
Perhaps the biggest change is the band’s performance style. Johnson, who’s known for her flair for the dramatic, has unleashed her inner Debbie Harry, penning more vitriolic lyrics and adopting all her favorite rock star poses. Goode, Dodd and Tipping-Spitz follow suit, sporting colorful clothes befitting a band that’s as focused on entertaining a crowd as they are simply writing and recording.
“We want the songs to be solid songs, and we want to put on a show for the audience,” said Dodd. “Part of being a musician is being a performer, and it’s not just strictly about the music – it’s about the art of performance. Rock n’ roll is a lot more than just standing around. We try to write songs that allow for us to perform in that way.”
The Tree Streets are currently polishing up their songs — equal parts Blondie, the Strokes and the theatrical side of the Dresden Dolls — in preparation of recording a four-song EP over the spring and summer. But they’re taking their time. All four are busy with lots of projects, from finishing up a graduate degree, for Johnson, to running for State House of Representatives, in Tipping-Spitz’s case. They’re so busy, in fact, they haven’t even had to time start a Facebook page for the band. More than anything, they’re trying to learn as much as they can from all their friends in Maine bands.
“We listen to all these great bands from all over the state, and we try to learn from them not just about songwriting, but how they go about playing gigs and being out there,” said Dodd. “You can learn just as much from the people around you as from huge bands that are really popular.”
The Tree Streets will play with their friends in the York power trio Lit on the Flash on Saturday night at Paddy Murphy’s in Bangor. Lit on the Flash, who were last seen in the Bangor area at the January WPC Presents show in Orono, is comprised of two of the former members of now-defunct but highly popular Portland band Jeremiah Freed — Jake Roche on guitar and vocals and Kerry Ryan on drums, with Matter Reignkin on bass. Together, they make a glorious racket that hearkens back to their longtime favorites, like the Who, Pearl Jam, the Black Crowes and Neil Young — updated with a groovy Black Keys beat. Roche is a born rock guitarist, with his long hair and flannel, and Ryan and Reignkin form a powerful rhythmic foundation for Roche’s guitar pyrotechnics. Their debut album, “Revolution Time,” came out in August 2011, and it’s as loud and rocking as it is smart — Roche has a penchant for intelligent lyrics that give the band an unexpected edge.