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Spring King


My back is up against the wall, adjacent to the bouncer, at a Friday night showcase of Spring King. I’d guess the modal age here is a good five years younger than myself as I cast my eyes towards opener Get Inuit. The crowd is tightly bunched towards the front, and there’s already some sitting on shoulders (god knows it’s only a bit gone 8). Early into the set, our lead vocalist earnestly belts out in one of the breakdowns, displaying Bez-like hypermobile arm jerks. He implores the audience, doused in green, to jump, whilst informing us, “I’m scum – wasting my life, an arsehole” in non-northern tones. Scratchy, pulsing and intentionally stop-start,it’s good music to kick your legs in the air to. Not long after we’re presented with The Magic Gang, whose lead singer looks a little like – and is dressed remarkably similarly to – the one before, yellow t-shirt and Jarvis Cocker specs to boot. I’m noticing that bass comes through well, when the lead guitar surges into a solo, followed by isolated drums and a singalong crowd. There are again southern tones to the voice when they chat gratefully between songs, which I’m probably only noting as I’m well aware of the Mancunian authenticity of the headliner. We’re told the upcoming track, ‘Only Waiting’, is from pleasingly titled new EP The Second EP From. The vocals all come together on the timeless lyrics “you were only waiting, but I was only waiting for you” – part sweet serendipity, part slight obsequiousness. It’s a bit lazy for me to say there’s a ring of The 1975, but it feels an appropriate allusion. Up next is ‘All this Way’, with the keenly repeated hook “all I really wanna know is how I got all this way on my own”. These are the age-old questions found at the core of any given bandman’s existentialism. It’s less grunge-pop than first act, with even the nice strum of reverby, harmonic-like strings as a song ends, and a few little whammy bar trims. We’re forewarned of the two-song-long segment left, and the band finishes with squiffy distorted guitar in the final track.

I centrally locate myself in order to feel like less of a fly on the wall and anticipate the next setup. I watched the video of Spring King’s ‘Rectifier’ today, the camera circling the drummer-cum-vocalist Tarek Musa throughout, and sense this will be a powerhouse gig. Plumes of blue dry ice obscure the now packed audience’s view of the stage, just before the interlude music is phased out so that we can welcome the main act with a rapturous response. They line up atypically without the usual staggering, all four members in one straight line. The drums are rich, and the stamina is quite something, with only a slight technical difficulty interrupting the flow. There’s also a melting guitar solo – and this is all within the first song – inducing quick claps and maximum audience participation. I’m impressed straight off by the well-executed skittish rhythms but consistent thudding impact. Second song ‘Detroit’ toes the line between heavy and upbeat, complete with non-clichéd hooks, then segues into a third rockier track, a bit slower with bending strings. So far each track has made room for guitar soloing, mini or otherwise, though they’ve not been overbearing. Musa calls out to any Macclesfieldians in the audience, and is at least superficially shocked at the response (perhaps initially fooled by the swathes of students). We’re asked if we’re taking care of ourselves and keeping hydrated, advised to enjoy both H2O and hops, and the courtly offerings of underwear are acknowledged and further encouraged.

‘The Summer’ begins and aptly there are numerous torsos above normal head height in full festival mode, whilst I’m coat-and-turtlenecked up to my eyeballs thanks to the mid-October chill outside. Pleasingly the bass and drums are central, so that all the glory isn’t localised around the guitars, who resemble bookends of the lineup despite soloing in almost every track. I note that the sound desk have done a commendable job of doing a decent sound check and arranging the balance effectively. I’m especially taken when components crisscross, vocals of “it’s alright” interweaving with oodles of reverb, that ubiquitous soloing and an increasing sense of saturation, everything sliced off neatly at the finish. Up next is ‘Who Are You?’, with hulking, punctuated repetitions of the title’s question accentuated by excellent staccato drum edges. It’s then followed by ‘City’, strictly “not a football song” but “one for us to put aside our differences over” (I was ironically listening to a scratchy copy of love-filled ‘World in Motion’ not a few hours before). I like what the band brings to the room – they’re friendly and positive on the mic but relentless in the music, a blend of warped sounds with sturdy, grubby rock undertones, and a sense of great adoration for their homeplace. In the encore there’s a humble address to the crowd, followed by helicoptering drums in an uber-jolting track, carried out snappily so that they can end with that well known and non-disappointing ‘Rectifier’.

It seems that a range of ages are drawn to Spring King (which 6Music may have a hand in), and no surprises there. Though young enough they’re hugely crowd-engaging; what they write and perform shows an intelligent songwriting approach, and is joyfully anthemic stuff.

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Hannah Ross

Hummer and strummer with Kurt Vile hair. Likes neo-soul, reverb, and most things put out by Beggars. Will review for money and/or free tickets + exciting new music.