Head in the Clouds, Music in the Air

America’s first Asian-centric music festival hosted its third year in Los Angeles.

If your ideal weekend sounds like music, food, and celebrating the vibrance of Asian heritage, then the Head in the Clouds Festival is the perfect event for you!

Head in the Clouds took place at the Brookside Park in Pasadena right next to the Rose Bowl. With over 35,000 attendees every year, 2021 marked the festival’s third year running and the audience did not get smaller.

The Asian-centric music festival garnered the attention of people worldwide, bringing Asian culture to the spotlight with talents from all over the continent. 

The international Asian record label 88rising partnered with Golden Voice, a company known for organizing events like Coachella. The festival Head in the Clouds featured headline performances by Joji, Saweetie, and Rich Brian. Part of the proceeds went toward  Inner-City Arts, an organization that helps people in low-income Los Angeles communities learn art and have opportunities to show their creativity. 

Attendees were encouraged to download the Head in the Clouds app which included the setlist along with performance times and a collection of all the food booths curated by the 626 Night Market. General information about the event was also provided as well as a map. 

The 626 Night Market is the largest night market inspired by Asian cuisine in the United States. The festival provided popular food booths for the attendees to dig in during the event. Options ranged from All Dat Dim Sum, Crofflesaurus, Norigami, and Tokyo Yakisoba. Drinks were also available from Flavour Fusions with their colorful, fruity beverages and of course, boba drinks from Bobaful. There were vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options as well from various vendors.

Both days were filled with performances from a variety of Asian artists. Saturday’s lineup included Atarashii Gakko!, Audrey Nuna, DPR Live and DPR Ian, Elephante, Japanese Breakfast, Lil Cherry and GoldBuuda, Rei Ami, Saweetie, Stephanie Poetri, UMI, Ylona Garcia, and finally Rich Brian. Before the final performance, Illenium performed as a special guest. 

Sunday performances consisted of FeelGhoodMusic, made up of artists Tiger JK, Yoonmirae, Bizzy, and BIBI, Luna Li, NIKI, Seori, The Linda Lindas, Warren Hue, beabadoobee, eaJ, Josh Pan, and big names like Keshi and Joji to end the night. 

The festival venue included two different stages. Each stage alternated performance times in order to allow festival-goers intervals in between the artists they wanted to see. Artists Beabadoobee and UMI among others performed at the Double Happiness Stage situated near the entrance of the festival. The 88rising Stage hosted the largest final solo performances of Rich Brian and Joji. 

“[Rich Brian and Joji] got their crowd so engaged. I’ve always wanted to see Joji live after my sister introduced me to him. Being in that crowd and atmosphere made my night special with everyone singing and the songs that were played. [88rising] is such an amazing group of artists who make music with amazing messages to them,” Andrew Abikzer ‘24 said.

The final performances of day one and two of the festival were the most attended of the whole event. Rich Brian engaged his audience with performances of his most popular and loved songs. Joji, being one of the most anticipated performances, ended the night with a spectacular setlist and an emotional crowd.

The influence of 88rising has reached worldwide. With their impact as well as other artists and stars, the issue of representation in the media has become an important topic of discussion.

“[88rising] are really big on Asian representation and music, and that’s not something you hear about often. Just seeing Asian people succeed as an Asian person myself made me proud of who I am and my culture,” said Missy Carrera ‘24.

Representation especially affects the youth of today who shape the future of our world. The popularity of 88 Rising and the artists they support allow Asian youth to feel validated and many seek comfort in their music. Representation in the media has the ability to influence our perception of others and our own self.

It is crucial to have genuine, accurate representation in order to destroy harmful stereotypes, prejudice, hate, misunderstandings, and instead promote diverse environments, encourage love, awareness, and new ideas, break down barriers, and inspire all.