Fresh from a debut appearance on Later with Jool’s Holland, hotly-tipped British 4-piece Spring King stopped off at Esquires in Bedford as part of their current headline tour. Whether this was good planning on the part of the promoter, or just a spot of good luck, the end result was a packed out venue for a band that haven’t released an album as of yet – no mean feat in a town whose resident’s seem to often suffer from acute bouts of cultural apathy. This wasn’t lost on the band, as singer/drummer Tarek Musa cheerfully expressed his surprise at the amount of people that came out to watch them on their first appearance in the town before launching into first song ‘Better Man’ from 2014’s Demons EP.

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Next up is the title track from the band’s forthcoming debut album Tell Me If You Like To (out in June on Island Records), before recently released single ‘Summer’ gets an airing. Their garage-rock sounds are delivered with a frenetic pop-punk energy; the way that bassist James Green bounces around throughout the entire set is at such an extreme level of hyperactivity it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that their rider consists solely of energy drinks and Haribo.

The whole band are in high spirits during the show, coming across as very friendly and likable bunch, and have a good rapport with the enthusiastic crowd. As much fun as it can be to wallow in the darker side of rock music, with musicians laying their souls bare on the stage in a cathartic process of working through their troubles, it is equally as enjoyable to be part of an event where everyone is just clearly having a great time.

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This is never more evident than towards the end of the set, as ‘Rectifier’ and ‘City’ (both of which got aired on Later…) whip the whole crowd into a frenzy, a reaction that is rewarded with encore ‘V-V-V Vampire’. If Spring King make friends across the country as quickly as they made them in Bedford then it won’t be long until they’re household names, it’s already probably a safe bet that the upcoming album will be the soundtrack to plenty of people’s summer.

Opening up the show are semi-local band Smokin’ Durrys. Bassist Tom is sporting a Drenge t-shirt, which is fitting because, a) he was a later addition to an established two-piece, à la Rob Graham, and b) they have a similar vibe to the earlier part of Drenge’s career, albeit one that leans a bit more in a bluesy direction. It’s a raucous start to the night, with both Tom and guitarist/singer Ash ending up in the crowd for portions of the set, leaving drummer Max hunched over his kit hammering the life out of it. Definitely a band to keep an eye on, can’t be long until their noise starts attracting industry-types.

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Kent-based Get Inuit are the main support for the tour and it’s pretty obvious from the get-go that they’re a good match for the headliners. They share many of the same high-tempo, feel-good attributes as Spring King and have a nicely self-deprecating sense of humour that ensures the crowd have little trouble segueing from the blues riffs of Smokin’ Durrys to the surf-inspired vocal harmonies that lace their boisterous collection of songs. These guys are sure to be a popular feature of the bigger festivals in coming years; in fact, it almost seems a crime to listen to ‘My Oh My’ without dancing around in a field with the sun blazing down.

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After Spring King finished their set there seemed to be some kind of post-gig gig happening in the venue, with Cornish duo Wolf Note taking to a slightly smaller stage yet still managing to blast some of the biggest sounds of the night. A nice little treat for those that stick around after the main event is done, their songs have a bit of a heavier Dinosaur Pile-Up feel rather than particularly sounding like any of the other two-piece bands floating around at the moment. Despite the increased amount of filthy riffs, the overall theme of everyone enjoying themselves doesn’t fade away; the band even being cajoled back for one more song by the fairly well-lubricated crowd, despite having just ended the set with drumsticks flying and guitar thrown to the ground.

Words by Terry Ruffhead

Photos by Kane Howie