Live Review

10 Best Moments at C2C Festival 2023

A round-up of the best moments from a wild weekend at London's C2C Festival 2023

Holler Country Music
March 15, 2023 11:21 am GMT
Last Edited April 28, 2023 9:58 am GMT

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Drake Milligan captures hearts

C2C is the place for artists from across the pond to make their UK debut and introduce themselves to a whole host of new fans. Plenty of first-timers did this over the weekend, but without a doubt the standout new act was Drake Milligan. The Texan kicked things off on Friday with an electrifying performance on the BBC Radio 2 Stage, leading honky tonk rockers with damn perfect baritone vocals and gliding across the stage with impressive choreographed dance moves. Even without his full band, his Saturday appearance on the Spotlight stage was the best of the weekend, the same energy and cheeky charm captivating hearts throughout the arena. It won't be long 'til this rising star is headlining stages across the world. - CB

Pillbox Patti brings gangsta country to the capital

With her G-funk beats and colourfully empathetic portrayals of the gritty underside of suburban America, Pillbox Patti isn’t just outlaw, she's full on gangsta country. Strutting onto the BBC Radio 2 stage in knee-high green leather boots adorned with glistening chains, the Grammy-nominated songwriter dominated the stage with a no-fucks-given attitude and damn catchy tunes. Queen. - CB

Midland give a masterclass in covers

Bringing the Texan heat to the heart of the O2 Arena, Midland's Saturday night set was one to remember, weaving a fiery set of neo-traditionalist bangers and immaculate covers. Taking on tunes of other artists and doing them justice (whist ensuring a new, trouser-splitting flare) is a skill, and Midland proved themselves masters of the art, performing Thin Lizzy's 'The Boys are Back in Town', Garth Brooks' 'Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old), Glen Campbell's iconic 'Wichita Lineman' and Jerry Read's 'East Bound and Down', before ending on a jaw-dropping rendition of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game'. - CB

Thomas Rhett’s iconic Friday night set

After a low-key, stripped-back label showcase earlier in the week, some suspected Rhett might bring the more introspective vibe of his Country Again record to his headlining set on Friday. But no, Rhett transformed the O2 into a raucous, late-night dive bar with high-energy renditions of ‘What’s Your Country Song’, ‘Vacation’ and Cole Swindell’s ‘She Had Me At Heads Carolina’. He saved room for the endearing intimacy of ‘Angels’, ‘Die A Happy Man’ and ‘Marry Me’, and with a special appearance from Niall Horan thrown into the mix, Rhett’s set served as a masterclass in how to deliver the perfect headlining performance. - Maxim Mower

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Holler Country Music

Ashley Cooke’s Indigo performances

Although Cooke has released a high-profile collaboration with Brett Young and made her Opry debut in 2022, the Floridian prodigy was still new to many at this year’s C2C Festival. However, by the end of the weekend, fans walked away humming Cooke’s irresistible ballad, ‘It’s Been A Year’, and an array of other captivating tracks she performed on the BBC Radio 2 Indigo stage. She performed with a killer blend of vulnerability, charm and vivacity, and it’s safe to say we can’t wait for her new album to drop later this year. - MM

Randall King emerges as the new George Strait

On Sunday, as you strode around the O2 with blisters on your feet from the new cowboy boots you just bought, any time you saw a huge throng of people packed around a stage, it was likely for one of Randall King’s day-time sets. The smooth Texas crooner has a Strait-like sensibility and an alluring, honeyed drawl to match. With 90s-inspired anthems such as ‘Baby Do’ and ‘You in a Honky Tonk’, King solidified his status as one of the most exciting new voices in today’s neo-traditional wave of artists. His decision to forego another of his hits in favour of performing a tribute to his late sister, ‘Fly Away’, in the main arena was a classy and hugely touching move. - MM

Afterparties roll into the early hours

C2C is always a multi-faceted experience, but often the best memories are made at the infamous, limited-access after parties. Breland's classic 'Breland & Friends' get-together brought a star-studded cast to the Indigo, 49 Winchester packed out the rowdy Saloon stage and pumpin' DJ sets across the weekend ensured the bustling spirit of the C2C crowd partied on through to the early hours, even on Sunday night as Madeline Edwards awarded the sturdiest of attendees! - CB

The suprisingly regular covers of Coldplay

Whether everyone likes to admit it or not, we can all be partial here and there to be a bit of Coldplay. Even if, like Ciara, you're just a fan of the early stuff, you can appreciate the influence they've had over the last couple decades. What we didn't quite expect though was two covers of 'Fix You', from two separate artists on two different nights. Kudos goes to both Jordan Davis and Morgan Evans; without even probably discussing it with each other, they managed to make both their versions sound identical, impressive stuff. It was sort of like we'd entered a vortex, and all that was playing was that never-ending guitar riff before someone sings "tears streammmmmmm", and both times it felt surprisingly euphoric . Even Jof was here for it, despite thinking it was called 'Big Shoes' 'til Monday. - Ross Jones

The quality of beards

The genre loves a beard, and they were all on display this past weekend. Whether it was Jordan Davis and Zac Brown's well quiffed bushes, Nate Smith and Tyler Braden's rugged do's or Isaac from 49 Winchester's lengthy frizz, the beard game was on point. The award for Best Beard of the Weekend unquestionably goes to each of the Midland fellas' uniform moustaches. Worn like a badge of honour to the great 70s honky tonk, Mark, Jess and Cam sported the finest tashes in the game. Extra kudos goes to Cam for the soul patch to match, Ross and Maxim are growing them as we speak. - RJ

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To purchase tickets:

For more information on tickets and for other country festivals set for 2023 and 2024 - head here.

For more coverage on C2C Festival 2024, head here.

Written by Ciara Bains
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