88rising’s Head in the Clouds Festival Felt Like a Dream

Written by Ervin Galdiano | Photos by Danica Anne Nuestro (unless otherwide noted)

What sets Head in the Clouds apart from the other festivals is the integration of Asian and Asian-American popular culture. Hosted by 88rising and Goldenvoice, Head in the Clouds Festival aimed to highlight the ever growing popularity of Asian artists. On November 6 and 7, the line-up featured a unique cast of both international and domestic artists. Many of the artists that performed that weekend were also responsible for making the soundtrack to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest hit, Shang-Chi.

Image of crowds and groups of people outdoors, taking pictures with the 88Rising symbol (two number 8's and an up arrow)
88Rising Logo Landmark at Head in the Clouds

The Venue

The festival grounds were located at Brookside at the Rose Bowl Stadium. The festival itself only had 2 stages, but was surprisingly spacious. There was plenty of room to walk around and explore. If you needed a quick break, it was easy to find a nice spot to sit down and relax with your friends. As far as the music, the sound quality of each stage was top notch. I was amazed at how loud and clear the main stage was, even from standing so far that you can’t even see that artists anymore. The main stage was decorated in a way that really reflects the vibe of having your “head in the clouds.” At the center was an emotional cloud unofficially named “Kirby” that really brought some life to each performance.

Image of artist JOJI performing on stage in front of crowd of people at Head in the Clouds
Rich Brian performing at Head in the Clouds Day 2
Image of artist Rich Brian performing on stage in front of crowd of people at Head in the Clouds
Rich Brian performing during the Head in the Clouds Finale

Food = Culture, Culture = Food

As an Asian American, I am sure many like me can say that food is culture and culture is food. Head in the Clouds definitely delivered on that front. The amount of food options featured were a line-up of its own, courtesy of the iconic 626 Night Market. Vendors included were All Dat Dim Sum, Bobaful, Chick N’ Skin, Tokyo Yakisoba, and much more.

Image of crowds and groups of people standing outdoors in the 88 Plaza, the Food + Drink Area at Head in the Clouds. People are lined up for multiple food and drink offerings at the event.
88 Plaza, the Food + Drink Area at Head in the Clouds Festival

BOPOMOFO Cafe: The Foodie Headliner for Head in the Clouds

The foodie line-up headliner would definitely be BOPOMOFO Cafe. Right outside the 88 Food Plaza, BOPOMOFO could have been easily missed. The lines were so long both days, but the wait was worth it. I tried their Blueberry Mint Limade Electrolyte drink and Chili Mapo Tots. For a jam-packed weekend, their electrolyte drink truly helped to stay hydrated and energized. Additionally, their drink included boba pearls, something not commonly offered at other music festivals. BOPOMOFO’s Chili Mapo Tots are inspired by the Chinese dish, Mapo Tofu. Their offering was savory, satisfying, and leagues above your typical festival food choices. To be honest, the same can be said about many of the other food vendors at Head in the Clouds; most vendors also had lines that had you waiting for an hour, if not more.

People lined up for BOPOMOFO Cafe, a Food + Drink Vendor at Head in the Clouds Festival. Menu lists Milk Tea, Boba Drinks, and Chili Mapo Tots, inspired by Chinese dish Mapo Tofu
BOPOMOFO Cafe, Food + Drink Vendor at Head in the Clouds Festival

Notable Acts from Head in the Clouds Festival

Atarashii Gakko!

The opening act, Atarashii Gakko!, is a Japanese-pop girl group that portrays themselves as high school student council leaders. They gained some popularity in the west because of their growing TikTok page. Their performance gave such a fantastic energy and really set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

Atarashii Gakko! performing at Head in the Clouds Festival Day 1, dressed  as and portraying Japanese high school student council leaders. Photo by Miranda McDonald
Atarashii Gakko! performing at Head in the Clouds Festival Day 1 | Photo by Miranda McDonald

FeelGhoodMusic

Another notable set was FeelGhoodMusic from Day 2, featuring BIBI and MFBTY (Tiger JK, Bizzy & Yoonmirae). BIBI was the first to perform within the FeelGhoodMusic set and the crowd went absolutely nuts for her. She understood the assignment by matching the crowd’s energy to her performance. For extra credit, she even thew condoms from her purse out to the crowd and kissed a lucky fan in the audience as well, all within her 20 minutes on stage. MFBTY shortly followed right after and gave such an energetic performance that transcended throughout the whole venue.

May be a closeup of 1 person, standing and text that says '+ OUR DANICA SQUAD'

CL

Although every artist had a phenomenal performance, I definitely want to highlight my favorite set of the weekend from Day 1. Korean rapper and singer, CL, brought out her explosive enthusiasm and charisma with songs from her newly released album, Alpha. Originally the leader of Korean-pop group 2NE1, she had recently dived deeper into her solo career. I believe that she embodies the spirit of Head in The Clouds. With her music, CL stays faithful to her Korean roots while adding western flair that encapsulates fans all over the world.

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Overall: Head in the Clouds Festival is a Must-Attend

Without a doubt, 88rising was able to deliver such a fantastic and unique experience. Head in the Clouds highlighted Asian success within the music and entertainment industries. At the same time, they were able to showcase different facets of Asian culture through food and popular media. Fortunately, 88rising provided a live stream of the event through Amazon Music and Twitch, so fans worldwide were able to be part of history from the comfort of their own homes. For a one of a kind musical experience, I highly recommend checking out Head in the Clouds Festival next year. I honestly can’t wait to see who they decide to feature in the future.

May be an image of 6 people, people standing, crowd and text that says 'OUR FESTIVAL SQUAD'

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