Saloon Stage @ C2C Festival - Lola Kirke
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Lola Kirke Performs Unreleased Song Written with Natalie Hemby at Debut C2C Festival in London

March 11, 2024 1:30 pm GMT
Last Edited March 18, 2024 11:43 am GMT

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Photography by Kendall Wilson

“Trying to be cool just doesn’t work for me,” Lola Kirke tells the audience at the Saloon Stage on a rainy Sunday morning at C2C Festival in London. But Lola Kirke doesn’t need to try to be cool. She just is. Effortlessly and enviably so.

Standing in an embroidered rose patterned cowgirl two piece before an audience a little worse for wear after two long days of country music, Lola Kirke took the stage to ease all our hangovers with an unreleased song especially written for these kinds of mornings. ‘Hungover Thinking’ is everything we’ve come to expect from Lola Kirke since she began leaning even further into country in the last year and a half.

“I know I've been playing music a lot live recently, because I can finally put the guitar on over my cowboy hat and it doesn't fall off,” she joked while introducing the song. “I'm growing, learning. This song feels apt because it's a Sunday morning at a music festival. I can tell you are very hungover right now. I see one person in sunglasses inside. This song's for you”.

Born in England, the singer’s family moved to New York when she was four years old, but she never lost her British irreverence and dry sense of humour. Which is why she writes such perfect country songs. She can be happy and sad at the same time, self-deprecating and empowering, drily dropping lyrics that land like quippy one liners from a Norah Ephron film.

“I just love London, especially when it's sunny”, she says about coming back to her birthplace. “It's just so magical, even when it rains. I think that’s a protective thing though. It has to rain here, otherwise everyone would fall in love with it and move here and overcrowd it”.

It’s been a long few days in London for Lola Kirke, and although she’s not entirely sure what day of the week it is, she’s remembered it’s Mother’s Day and she’s got a song she’s written with Natalie Hemby called ‘Marlboro Lights and Madonna’ especially for the occasion.

“I told Natalie a story of how when I was a 5-year-old girl, I was at a resort in Florida with my family and Madonna was there”, she explains about how the song came about. “My mom said, ‘Go up to her and ask for an autograph,’ but my Disney autograph book was all full up with autographs from Cinderella, the Seven Dwarves and all that. So I said to my mom, ‘I don't have anything for her to sign. I don't know what I'm going to do.’ And my mom took her empty Marlboro Lights pack and gave it to me and said, ‘Go give her this to sign.’ So anyway, I told Natalie Hemby that story, and we wrote this song”.

Kirke has a classic country storyteller’s gift of taking even the tiniest of anecdotes and spinning it into solid country gold. ‘Tennessee Sober’ is a play on the phrase “California sober”, which imagines what being sober in the state she now calls home might involve.

“I had this idea for a song called ‘Tennessee Sober’, but I had to figure out what that meant”, she says. “So, I did research, went around Tennessee. I discovered it means being absolutely drunk all the time. So, I wrote this song”.

Lola Kirke might not originally be from country music’s heartland, but she understands country music in a way that so many people who are from there don’t. Her playfulness and love for the tropes and traditions of the genre are what makes her songs so classically undeniably country.

“I'm not from the south, which is where a lot of people who play country music are from”, she says. “But I love country music. And maybe I'm inauthentic, but I feel like love is the only authentic thing that you really need. And I authentically love country music”.

Country music loves to grow its own, and it isn’t always easy crossing over into the genre from outside of it, but songs like ‘He Says Y’all’, ‘My House’, and ‘All My Exes Live in L.A.’ off Kirke’s latest Elle King-produced Country Curious EP, already feel like well-loved country classics.

“Anyway, life's too short to worry about being liked all the time”, she'd told the audience at the beginning of her set. “I hope you do. But if you don't, that's fine, too”.

She didn’t need to have worried; the audience absolutely loved her. Everyone loves Lola Kirke. Even if they don't yet, they will.

Lola Kirke C2C Festival 2024 Setlist

Taken from Lola Kirke's show on the Holler Saloon Stage at the o2 arena in London, UK on March 10th 2024.

  • Hungover Thinking
  • Karma
  • Marlboro Lights and Madonna
  • Tennessee Sober
  • He Says Y’all
  • My House
  • All My Exes Live in L.A.

For more from C2C Festival 2024, see below:

Written by Jof Owen
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