Day 1 of Head In The Clouds left fans thirsty, and ultimately revealed why Jay Park is K-pop royalty and should have been the headliner for the first day of the festival.
Photos & Words: Asha Moné
Doors opened to tens of thousands of fans on Saturday, Aug. 20 at Brookside Park at the Rose Bowl, home of many Goldenvoice music festivals such as Head In The Clouds (HITC). Once inside the festival, trash cans full of water bottles and hydro flasks decorated the security area. Outside beverages weren’t allowed in the festival, and the security and events team were a bit confused as to where media credentials were suppose to go. It was the first day makings of your average festival experience.
After walking around the entire festival grounds, standing in line at the credentials booth twice and asking a manager, I finally was directed to go through a regular VIP security entrance. As soon as I passed through security, and some VIP ticket holders who were trying to sneak their general admission friends into the line, I was greeted by the Head In The Clouds clouds, and the sounds of DJ CO1.
For two hours DJ CO1. played a mix of songs for the EDM heads and the Tik Tok bebes. He even threw in a “Let me see your tootsie roll” for those not born in the 2000s.
At 3pm, the first act began. Nathan Fuller a.k.a 1nonly blew onto the Double Happiness stage with a crew of homies including rappers Shady Moon and Ciscaux and the spirit of XXXtentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God. He makes turn-up-mosh-pit style music that samples all of the latest trending TikTok songs. It works for him. There’s a grittiness to his voice that compliments the trendy elements and baselines of his Soundcloud-esque lo-fi sound. “Zoey 101, are you ready?” is a signature line from his song “Come Tru.”
Next up was Shotta Spence. I’m going to let you in on a little secret; Shotta Spence has been on my must-see list since his first album in 2016, Upfall. I highly recommend you give it a listen if you haven’t already. A New Jersey-bred rapper and artist affiliated with Mike Will Made It / Ear Drummer Records — Shotta is really good at what he does and he’s always having fun doing it. From my his newer tracks “Aribba” and “Write My Name,” to my favorite “Dirty Jersey,” he had the crowed jumping. As a Jersey girl myself, I am proud that his talents are finally being presented on the bigger stage. Much deserved.
Around 4pm, it was time for my first act on the main stage, Thailand’s own MILLI. When MILLI came on stage, the red, white and blue striped flags popped up in the crowd and fans went wild. I love MILLI’s energy. She’s fun. She can command a stage. She’s multi-lingual and she can sing and rap. If you need to take one important thing away from MILLI’s performance, she is unapologetically Thai and we love that.
“Hand’s up if you from Thailand,” she yelled as the crowd cheered.
“THAT’S MY FAM. THAT’S MY FAM. If you don’t know about Thailand let me tell you where I’m from.”
“Understand one thing, I didn’t ride an elephant.”
And that’s that. Continue disrupting Thailand and challenging the infrastructure, MILLI! We love an artist pushing the buttons of the establishment and MILLI, you look good doing it. I recommend you listen to “Phak Khon” (พักก่อน).
Back to the Double Happiness stage, were back-to-back performances by Grimy Goods fave, Boylife and Thuy. I have a request, I need a collab. Both artists gave us a breather and an energy refresher. A time to slow it down and get a few slow dances in as the sun began to set and the heat started to let up.
One of my favorite moments of day 1 of Head In The Clouds, was Dabin’s set. As I was shooting the set and interacting with the crowd, who was raging hard to the dj set, I met a girl who gave me a rave bae bracelet that she has made. “Peace. Love and Unity.” She had been slipping them on to peoples hands she was meeting and just living in the movement, jamming out. Dabin if you read this, your music moves people. You have great fans.
Chung Ha. Chung Ha. Chung Ha. Bookers and promoters, listen to me, you ned to book her in Los Angeles more. She will be grateful and by the countless fan signs in the crowd and the people singing along to her songs, they will be grateful too.
Now, I have a bone to pick with HITC and it has to do with the Deb Never and Audrey Nuna set. Have you lost your minds? Not only did you have them share a 30-minute time slot, you staggered their performance so that fans had to pick which half they wanted to see before taking the 10-minute walk to the other stage for Jay Park. Do better please, those two incredible artists deserve better. Excuse me while I jam out to “multigrain.” We need that full collab project pronto.
Jay Park should have been the headliner. Yeah I said it. It should have been Jay Park and friends. If you didn’t know, Jay park is kind of K-pop royalty whether you like it or not and he honestly deserves that standing title.
Jay Park always comes with the hits and dance moves. You can’t go wrong with Jay and a Cha Cha Beat. After my time in the pit, I heard the speakers sing “I like to Party On the Weekend.”
Wait a minute. IS THAT SIK-K? Jay Park brought out special guest SIK-K and Ph1. That’s when the festival felt like a party. They could have played “Iffy” and ended the show. I think that would have been a great closer.
Over on the Double happiness stage, Mxmtoon was closing out the stage with all the positive vibes. If for some reason yesterday you were having a bad day, that was the set to see to realign you spirits. Mxmtoon’s voice and demeanor is a breathe of fresh air. She is nostalgia wrapped in a bow and I hope Mxmtoon had a great day. Thank you for performing “Frown.” I know someone needed to hear it.
Keshi had a lot on his plate feeling the spot of Covid stricken Niki last night. Before he even graced the stage, the whispers in the crowd were: “I hope his mic Is working this year.” And It was. I love Keshi, but Keshi doesn’t make festival music that closes out a night. With only one very upbeat song, “Get IT” and his album “Gabriel” being stacked with ballads and slow jams, it didn’t matter if he was backed by a live band, Keshi kind of got swallowed put on a huge stage. He still sounded great. No need to clown him on TikTok this year guys.
After Keshi, it felt like there was a mass exodus of people. People wanted to see a Joji performance and while the Yebi Labs set was cool, It was your average DJ set. The fans were concerned that he wasn’t even one of the masked figures on the stage. It was the only set that felt like it was, well, alright.
I don’t have many complaints for for the first day of Head In The Clouds. Event producers and promoters, 88 rising and Goldenvoice did a pretty good job all around. Albeit, the limited supply of refill water and there only being one refill station in the main concert area, was a drag on such a hot day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the dance stage and missed out on both Hojean and Yeek’s performances. Hopefully I can catch everyone on day 2 of Head In The Clouds.