By Joe Inwood
Spring King are not a band to be daunted by firsts. Their track City was the first played by Zane Lowe to launch Apple’s Beats 1 radio station last summer, and in the same week in which they made an assured debut on Jools Holland they were headlining in Oxford for the first time. Lead singer and drummer Tarek Musa greeted the Bullingdon crowd with a grin before launching straight into the set. The four-piece gave the impression of genuine surprise and delight at their enthusiastic reception and the impressive turnout – this is a band making their way through relentless touring, and with last year’s EP They’re Coming After You they began to carve out a niche for their high-energy sound.
The driving force of the band is indeed Musa – the Spring King himself. The dynamic is striking at first but it works, guitarists James and Pete given space for inventive solos as Musa keeps everything moving at the band’s characteristic frenetic pace. He emerges from behind his kit for the extended intro to They’re Coming After You, looking out at us as he asks ‘who are you?’. There is room for introspection in amongst the sound and fury, with both this intro and the singalong chorus to City – ‘Who am I? What does it matter?’ – echoing the bold, guitar-heavy Who Are You?
Their most recent single The Summer goes down a treat with the crowd on this warm Saturday evening, who enthusiastically disregard Tarek’s introduction – he explains that it’s a song about heartbreak. The influence of the Beach Boys is unmistakeable in its harmonies, and it marks out the sound of recent work from their punk origins. This earlier form of the band gets an outing with Let’s Ride, its chaotic energy making one of the most memorable moments of the set. It’s Demons though that sees Spring King at the top of their game, and the drop in pace allows for a richer sound and something of an emotional connection.
The support from Get Inuit is worthy of a mention. Their tongue-in-cheek Pro Procrastinator raised wry smiles from the students present with its refrain ‘I’m wasting my life’, as frontman Jamie encouraged us to the front with some reassuring words about our impending exams. By the end of the night the room is in a trance. A spontaneous mosh pit breaks out amongst the more dedicated (and intoxicated) Spring King fans in the audience, and it’s no wonder as the momentum never slows and the band reach their peak energy right at the end of the set.
Despite being several gigs into their biggest tour yet, energy pulsed through the night. Playing live, the band produced a raw sound that brought out the real verve in each of their bold, confident anthems. The sound was markedly different to that of their new album, Tell Me If You Like To, but it was all the better for it. This is a new band to see live if ever there was one. More excellent live shows in this vein will surely bring greater things for the four Mancunians, and with a new headline tour announced for October that will see them return to Oxford – this time at the O2 – they have every reason to be cheerful.