18th Feb 2016
It’s staggering how the fortunes of bourgeoning band Spring King have transformed over the past few months, the group acclaiming a snowballing reputation as one of the hottest prospects in the music industry; in May last year, by his own admission, Tarek Musa’s brainchild played to a modest crowd of 30 at Nottingham’s Bodega, co-headlining the bill with Heat – before that, his collective played a DJ set to a singular attendee, and his deaf dog, at near-by Stealth.
But, nine months down the line, the frenetic Manchester rock ‘n’ rollers are back at Bodega – a stalwart for live music, renowned for attracting highly-rated artists before they become huge – this time selling it out, on their own, after receiving global exposure.
The northern four-piece made the music history books in June, becoming the first ever band to be played on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio show, hosted by Zane Lowe – who played ‘City’, as its debut track.
“Nottingham”, Tarek exclaims – who is clad in a red snapback and retro American tennis garment – after walking on stage, the crowd jostling for a decent vantage point, before he is cut-short by jubilant screams.
“Fucking hell, I didn’t realise we could fit so many people in this room. What the fuck, there’s so many of yer. Thank you all for coming down”, he adds, before launching into the cacophonous, ‘Better Man’.
The drummer-cum-frontman sits at the back of the small stage, the group’s rear-wheel driving force which, for any sceptics, pays off; the band are raucously indie and melodic at the same time, boasting a catalogue of beer-swirling, festival-ready anthems – which sound like a cross between The Maccabees, Circa Waves and Jamie T.
After moving into ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ and then ‘Detroit’, the passion emanating from the third number evokes the first of a spate of giddy, mini-mosh pits which, in such intimate surroundings, are impossible to avoid.
The other member of the band who stands out is vocalist and guitarist, James Green, who’s giving it everything he’s got, raising the proverbial roof.
The highlight song is ‘They’re Coming After You’, Tarek migrating to the edge of the stage to deliver their most melodic of ballads, which is echoed by his gospel-like choir, afore him.
Their softest of numbers is followed by their most visceral, and we witness pandemonium ensue during their Catfish and the Bottlemen-esque number, ‘Mumma’.
“Fucking Hell. I don’t know who’s more tired, you guys enjoying yourself or us playing. We’re ‘gonna give you everything we’ve got tonight”, a breathless Tarek adds.
The band don’t need an encore and simply reel off their celebrated humdinger ‘City’ to end, the crowd a churning sea, and we leave excited above all, safe in the knowledge that these guys won’t be playing small-scale gigs much longer.
- Better Man
- Tell Me If You Like To
- In All This Murk And Dirt
- Oblivion (Grimes cover)
- They’re Coming After You
- Who Are You?
- Can I?
- Let’s Ride
Post-gig interview with Tarek Musa:
That was breath-taking, how do you feel?
“I feel great. That was amazing. So many people came down, we sold the fucking venue out and I feel really good about that. Last time we played here only 30 people came. That was amazing then, because we didn’t expect 30 people. This is just on another level for us.”
It’s been a whirlwind year hasn’t it with your exposure on the radio. What can we expect from Spring King now?
“We want to tour the shit out of this year, playing as many shows as possible, hopefully release an album half-way through the year and drop some more singles. We want to put as much music as we can out there.”
Have you got high hopes for your latest single, ‘Rectifier’ – released yesterday?
“Rectifier’s been going down well so far and we just want people to enjoy it. Whatever happens, happens y’know.”
Will you be doing the festival circuit?
“We’re doing Great Escape, Outlines Festival, and a couple of others which haven’t been announced yet.”
How does Nottingham rate as a gig for you?
“Every time we’ve played Nottingham it’s always been great. The first time we played Nottingham, like two years ago, only one person showed up. It’s was like an R & B hip-hop night, the weirdest show. After that every show’s been amazing.”
Can you see yourself in the next few months playing at Rescue Rooms or Rock City?
“Hopefully, we’d love to. We’ve got huge aspirations, but I guess it’s a calling response from the demand and people enjoying our music.”
You’ve toured with Slaves and Spector, how was that?
“Slaves are amazing, they’re really good friends of ours now. We met them in Amsterdam months ago and they’re really cool.
“Spector’s Danny and our Pete [Darlington] used to live together, it’s a small world. The general tour vibes with them and Slaves have been really relaxed. We’ve been on tour with bands in the past where’s it’s been a bit more formal and everyone keeps themselves to themselves. But we’ve been really lucky with Spector, Slaves and Courtney Barnett.”
Are you touring in the future with anyone else?
“We’re supporting Wolf Alice on a one-off show. We’re also supporting the Kaiser Chiefs in the summer for their Forest festivals.”
All words by Jamie Barlow. You can also find Jamie on Twitter @JBarlow95_.