Keep Your Head in the Clouds

Amidst a booming sound system, sweltering summer heat and a surprise appearance you won’t be able to guess, the Head in the Clouds Music and Arts Festival returned triumphantly for its fourth year.

Affectionately referred to as “Asian Coachella,” the annual music festival took place Aug. 20 to 21 at the Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and featured an abundance of Asian American favorites in the lineup. Hosted by API-centered music collective 88rising, this year’s Los Angeles festival comes four months after 88rising’s takeover of the actual Coachella main stage back in April

K-pop soloist Chungha and her dancers strike a pose for a Saturday crowd. (Photo by Alive Coverage.)

The first day saw performances by 1nonly, boylife, Shotta Spence, Thuy, Yeek, mxmtoon and a joint performance by Audrey Nuna and Deb Never (their live performance of “multigrain” will have your head banging for weeks to come) at the Double Happiness stage. Meanwhile, Hojean, MILLI, Dabin, Chungha and Kinjaz took to the 88 stage across the festival grounds. Rapper Jay Park brought out H1GHER MUSIC labelmates pH-1 and Sik-K during the latter half of his set, where the three performed hits like “The Purge” and “TELÉFONO.” 

Later in the evening, Keshi made his appearance on the 88 stage, having replaced NIKI at the last minute after the latter contracted COVID-19. After voicing his well wishes to her, the Houston-based singer crooned fan-favorites “SOMEBODY” and “beside you,” among others, to a welcoming crowd.

Finishing the first day of the festival, Joji premiered a DJ set as Yebi Labs, sharing a number of remixes like, “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” and “N95.”  But fear not, because the “Glimpse of Us” singer also performed a few of his own songs to end the night on a high note.

Day two saw No Rome, Stephanie Poetri, Dumbfoundead, Lastlings, Raveena and the iconic Teriyaki Boyz on the Double Happiness Stage. Meanwhile, the 88 stage was graced by the likes of Ylona Garcia, Atarashii Gakko!, Bibi, eaJ, Warren Hue and Chasu. Rich Brian took the first headlining slot of the evening, rapping songs like “LAGOON” and “edamame” to the delight of the audience, while GOT7 member Jackson Wang followed up with showstopping performances of songs off his soon-to-be-released album “MAGIC MAN,” including “Cruel” and “Blow.” 

Rich Brian lights up the 88 stage during his Sunday performance. (Photo by AI.Visuals.)

In addition to enjoying the music and summer sun, festival-goers shopped around for 88-branded merch at various pop-up shops, enjoyed picnics of their favorite eats from the curated 626 Night Market and left messages for NIKI at her Nicole’s Class installation, where fans could get yearbook photos taken. Those more accustomed to raving at music festivals gravitated to the Club Year Of dance tent, which hosted DJs B, Hu Dat, Camgirl, JackJack, Venessa Michaels, Manila Killa and AUTOGRAF, who played hours of bass-pumping EDM across the two days. 

The Head in the Clouds festival rounded out the two days of music with a grand finale that included a surprise collaboration of “Tokyo Drift” by Teriyaki Boyz and Rich Brian, a sing-along to 88rising staples “California” and “Midsummer Madness” and an unexpected cameo from legendary actress Michelle Yeoh, who joined the musicians on stage at the end of the night to say goodbye.

With the scope of 88rising’s ability to put on a good show, the success of the Head in the Clouds festival proves itself ready for its international counterparts, set to take place in Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines in December of this year. Perhaps the weather will be a little cooler by then.