“Fucking hell!, there’s so many people here,” boggled awestruck Spring King singer/drummer Tarek Musa, surveying the crowd spilling out of the NME/Radio 1 tent. “Last time we were here, there were so many moshpits,” he added, almost as an invitation to, y’know, “Beat that”.
Not that they needed the excuse – the tent was jumpier than an economist after Brexit. Since playing Leeds last year, the Manchester quartet have released their debut LP, ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, and gained a reputation for gigs so raucous that Musa would puke in exhaustion. By the second song today, the album’s title track, there’s a swarming moshpit, and as their insistent CBGB’s riff-pop ignited a maelstrom of flailing limbs, it felt like the coronation of indie’s newest heroes.
Throughout, Musa and co wore the lottery-winning expression of a group playing “their biggest show to date” (“I’m surprised more of you aren’t hungover you right now,” he grinned), but in many ways, Spring King are the perfect festival band: the likes of ‘Detroit’, the grubbier Circa Waves-pop of ‘Mumma’ and the Beach Boys surf-rock of ‘Summer’ pull off the trick of sounding new but instantly familiar, boasting uniformly easy-to-howl-along-to choruses.
For the slow-burning ‘They’re Coming After You’, Musa got up from behind his kit, prowling the stage with intent – and marshaling the throng to echo his words back at him, which ramped up the communal euphoria. As he returned to drums, bashing his kit with the intensity of a sugar-deprived kid twatting a piñata, it was yet another signal for crowd surfing and pogo-ing.
Like their lean, fat-free songs, Spring King played a brief 30-minute set delivered with coiled-spring intensity. Before a storming ‘Rectifier’, Musa asked for the house lights to come up, so he can take a picture before departing, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be higher up the bill next year. Only downside? He didn’t pepper the stage with the contents of his breakfast this time. Maybe he’s saving it for encores these days.