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  • Julia Finocchiaro

ICYMI: 88rising’s Head in the Clouds Festival in NYC



Head in the Clouds festival returned to New York City last weekend for its second year in the Big Apple. Fans flocked to Queens to the historic Forest Hills Stadium for two days of wonderful music in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month. Local Asian Cuisine, a Coca-Cola truck, and plenty of spots for photo ops were just some of the things you would find upon entering the stadium. Fans came dressed to impress - leg warmers, boots, streetwear, colorful hair, and cargo pants seemed to be the popular attire choices.


Photos Taken By: Julia Finocchiaro


Day 1

Saturday kicked off with a chill set by Chinese singer Wang OK amidst a hot and sunny day at Forest Hills. Following this was K-pop group Young Posse’s NYC debut, and they made sure to deliver a well-polished, energetic performance that included hits like the viral “Macaroni Cheese.” The girls also threw white scrunchies out into the crowd periodically during the set, allowing some audience members to take a piece of their set home with them.


Balming Tiger was next up, and needless to say their set initially took me by surprise. The group had quite an entrance, and kept up the loud hip-hop energy throughout their set, describing themselves as “K-pop from the dark side.” After them was an absolutely gorgeous set by singer-songwriter Juliet Ivy and her band, during which she paused to read confessions from a box labeled “i know you’re not supposed to say it…,” one of which was someone admitting to their love of ranch on burgers.


Vietnamese American r&b singer Thuy was set to perform next, and she took the stage with her stunning coral-colored hair and simple black tracksuit. One soulful performance led to two others, when Dhruv took the stage followed by indie band wave to earth. Dhruv’s set was simple yet calming as the singer walked back and forth across the stage performing his songs, while wave to earth started to bring up the energy again in preparation for the pyro-filled DJ set by Illenium and Dabin that followed shortly after.


Rounding out the night were K-pop superstars G(I)-DLE, who fans had been waiting for all day. This was my first time seeing a full-production K-pop set, and it did not disappoint! The vocals and dancing were polished, and the group even had some of their own pyro effects similar to those used by Illenium. All in all it was a great day of music, and I was excited to return on Sunday.





Day 2

An unexpected 1 train closure made my commute from 238th in the Bronx a bit longer than intended (like, 1 hour longer), so I unfortunately missed out again on photographing the first act of the day, Spence Lee. I did get to hear his set from a distance, though, and what an opening set it was! Lee, a New Jersey native, wasted no time getting the crowd warmed up and dancing for what would turn out to be another beautiful sunny day after a somewhat gloomy morning. Next up was rapper Warren Hue (who we also had the chance to snap a few portraits of the previous day). His set started out slow but picked up energy as it went on, with some r&b sounds thrown in alongside his more hip-hop focused songs.


Following Hue was my personal favorite set of the day, Japanese hip-hop star Awich. I came into this festival not very familiar with many of the artists, and I absolutely fell in love with Awich’s music, resilience, and positive attitude. Following an explosive entrance and opening few songs, Awich took a moment to talk about why this specific performance was so special to her. She told the audience about how she had fallen in love with and married a man from New York who later passed away. The two had a daughter together, and she talked about how she had to be strong for her. Performing in New York, Awich knew her late husband would be proud of her. She continued to power through her set, tripping on the stage during the last song. Awich once again used this as a way to encourage the audience to always pick themselves back up if they fall in life.


Some calmer vibes followed Awich’s high-energy set with performances by alternative artists Deb Never and Lyn Lapid, the latter of which is rapidly making a name for herself in the indie world. Both sets saw strong vocals and songwriting by very talented women. Their sets were followed by another chill set by Filipino alternative singer and producer Eyedress, who donned an oversized winter jacket despite performing facing the hot golden-hour sun.


First up in the final trio of acts was Japanese girl group Atarashii Gakko! These gals reignited the energy in the crowd just as the sun began to set over the stadium. Tight choreography coupled with superfans along the front row made this set stand out. Lead singer Suzuka even came down to the barricade to interact with the crowd towards the end of the group’s set.


K-pop sensation Bibi was the next to take the stage, and with her came an entourage of male backup dancers to add even more energy into her set. With hits like “She Got It” and “Bam Yang Gang,” Bibi fully embraces her place as a pop star, even coming down to the barricade to kiss and hug fans who were absolutely starstruck while watching her performance.


The final performance of the night, and possibly the most anticipated of the weekend, was the viral hit “Glimpse of Us” singer Joji. Performing atop a huge platform on stage, Joji was showered with cell phone flashlights and adoring fans who had waited all day to see him up close. WIth around a 20-song set, including acoustic and full performances of “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” pool floaties, it was an overall lovely-to-watch set that would have everyone leaving as a bigger fan of Joji.

** Joji photos taken by HITC media





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