If you’re a festival bunny, you know what it’s like. We risk it all for a hot look, good music, delicious food, and a fantastic time with friends. Now imagine that experience dedicated to one of the biggest festival demographics attending today with Asian culture, content, music, and art. But not a niche convention situation. Not associated to the stigmas of fandom life. Not divided and only servicing one Asian demographic. Every year, 88rising gets closer and closer to being the premiere elite festival for all things Asian entertainment. This year again, dominating with a lineup so strong it rivaled the only other competition in town (on the exact same weekend) with an all-Asian lineup. Y’all know what I’m talking about.
Asian Junkie has had the privilege of watching the Head In The Clouds festival grow from its roots in Chinatown all the way to the Rose Bowl! Bigger than 2021’s festival, I confirmed with the promoters that they did indeed expand, taking up a massive amount of space to make more room for fans in a safer, more fun, and easier to maneuver environment. I was absolutely floored to see not only the Main Stage and the Double Happiness stage, but the Club Year Of Dance Tent available to wristband holders throughout the entire weekend. It was constantly at capacity and every time we checked on the location, the place was packed with a safe place for all the ravers to dance their brains out!
Each stage had an amazing lineup, but being that I’m one human being, I stayed glued to the Main Stage. Day 1 opened with Hojean, whose fame is at that moment in time when a popularity explosion is imminent. He absolutely rocked the audience in 90 degree weather in a hoodie and absolutely fire leather bomber jacket. He then spent most of the day mingling with his fans throughout the crowd, stopping sweetly agreeing to selfies with everyone around him. He was followed by MILLI, as cute as a cloud, again like a freshly lit firecracker about to light up the entire industry. She was followed by Dabin giving us an early dose of hardcore EDM headbangers! I was absolutely floored by these three up and coming artists who were all about the fans, their music, and having such a great time.
The sun started to wane in the sky, and like golden hour herself, Chungha stepped on stage, gracing an already massive audience. How do I even do her justice? She’s angelic from her adorable retro style to her flirtatious moves absolutely wowing the audience. She performed her newest tracks as well as a few of her first hits. We got “Rollercoaster” and “Snapping“, which let me just say is steamy live, and “Sparkling” was absolutely fantastic. The highlight of her performance was the moment when she stopped to sign a fan’s album, not once, but twice!
The incomparable Kinjaz were also in attendance, absolutely wowing the crowd with a brief performance of dance moves I’ll live knowing I can never pull off on a dance floor. These dudes have moves that cause jaws to drop.
Jay Park is the OG heavy hitter. For better or worse, like him or not, he’s your fave’s fave. The man is living the dream. From b-boy to K-pop to rap and R&B to living that CEO life, he’s the success story every idol dreams of. You name it, he’s succeeded at it. And now, he’s dropping high-end soju with Won Soju and working on a K-pop boy group … so he says.
Anyway, his discography is massive, so could have chosen any number of songs to perform. He went with “Me Like Yuh“, “All I Wanna Do“, “Ganadara“, and others.
But it wasn’t just his set list. It was his special guests that absolutely lit the stage on fire! Jay Park flexed the big guns by bringing out the H1GHR MUSIC gang themselves, Sik-K and pH-1. You could nearly hear the panties drop! It was like a wave of screams as they performed songs like “Iffy” and “The Purge“. He hyped the crowd hard with “K-TOWN“, a local classic, and finally god’s gift to summer parties, “Mommae“.
Keshi was a late addition added to the lineup when it was announced that, unfortunately, Niki came down with COVID. Even though she was sorely missed, the artists who were set at the last minute to replace her stepped up to the challenge and gave the crowd exactly what they needed: a raging ride on the feelercoaster.
Keshi doesn’t play. He’s a stunner who steps out on stage, with a full band and a guitar and then croons until your brains melt out of your ears and you’ve got nothing governing your life but your heart … a heart he now owns. He feeds a need, a beautiful emo need that every single one of us has deep inside. He performed songs such as “Sins“, “Somebody“, and “Touch“. Trust me, if you were not a Keshi fan at the start, you are now. Welcome to the fold.
Finally, lots of us were wondering what Joji had been up to. Suddenly he had a DJ group called YEBI LABS, but he’d released one single within a few years and no other music. We were all not sure what was going on. But let me tell you, Joji knows what he’s doing. He’s intuitive with his choices and he hasn’t steered us wrong yet.
The finale of Day 1 was YEBI LABS absolutely killing it on a massive two-tier constructed DJ booth looking like an industrial wedding cake celebrating EDM and the blessing that is experimentalism in music. He mixed as he pleased, with no real need to adhere to a style or setlist as he chose to mix his own songs with other hits from as far back as the 2000s. He trolled the audience a bit, having fun with his mixes and going hard at certain points as the massive crowd absolutely went wild. It was a legit rave. Freedom of music!
Joji also performed his new song “Glimpse of Us” and he came down from the DJ booth mid performance and launched into his songs, playing with the crowd and just immersing himself in the joy of the night.
I was absolutely floored. All of us were. This was a Joji that had shed his skin and grown into a new entity and we all loved it. And that was it!
Just as fast as it began, Day 1 was over and we all made our way to our cars, determined to stuff our faces with good food and drink then crash out hard because every single one of us knew we were only half way done.
Stay tuned for Day 2!
Thank you 88Rising and Goldenvoice for allowing us to continue our coverage.
And if you’re in Asia, heads up! HITC is heading to Jakarta!