Head In The Clouds day two photos are in! Jackson Wang, the “magic man” was just one of the many highlights from a lineup busting at the seams with talented, multi-faceted Asian artists from around the world. Thank you for a weekend filled with great music, insatiable energy and Asian representation on the big stage.
Photos & Words: Asha Moné
Day two of HITC started smooth. As doors opened at 2pm, concert goers walked in with determination to get one of a few things: the best spot to see headliner Jackson Wang on the main stage, a shady area to sit, mech at one of the many instillations or a spot into the one line that allowed you into Club 88, the festival dance party tent. I made a decision to see everyone that I could today so, thank me later.
As DJ Co1 played a new mix of tracks, I be-lined it to see Ylona Garcia on the main stage and then rushed over to see No Rome over at the Double Happiness. Garcia, a Filipino-Australian songstress signed to 88rising opened the day with “Vibin.” Dressed in a white bodysuit and white platform heels, the singer strutted down the stage to perform her Ariana Grande- esque summer jam before doing covers of “Crazy” by Cee-lo Green and “I Did something bAD” by Taylor Swift. Garcia loves interacting with he fans and they love her for that reason. After her set, I caught her in the Vip lounge, playing iPad games with the supporters. We love to see that.
Now for No Rome, I wish he had the same kind of dynamic start to his set. Unfortunately, someone was destined to have mic issues at the festival and that person was him. Fortunately for us, it was fixed before the 3rd song. I really wasn’t sure what to expect at the beginning when I arrived to the stage. There were two people on stage in green knit masks surrounding a table of DJ equipment but by the end of his set, No Rome was maskless, the crowd was grooving with him and we all got to hear “Remember November.”
Rushing, running and racing past the working water refill stations, I got back to the main stage just in time. ATARASHII GAKKO! WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SETS OF THE FESTIVAL. Suzuka, Mizyu, Rin, and Kanon are comedically hilarious . If you have never seen or heard of them before, imagine this: four Japanese girls dressed in uniforms, doing gymnastics stunts, choreography and being silly while singing to these intense J-rock/ pop instrumentals. Amazing right? I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! While their studio songs are already amazing, getting to hear them live is 10x better.
Following up we have Stephanie Poetri on the Double Happiness Stage and Warren Hue & Chasu on the main stage. Poetri sang to a relaxing mix of indie folk guitars and followed up with a cover of “Fireflies” by Owl City while Warren Hue & Chasu were running a mile a minute giving fans a performance of “Run away with Me” and “ThirtyNine.” I’m sad I couldn’t stay to see Hue bring out Tobi Lou for “In My Bag,” but I did get to see a fan almost faint when Warren grabbed the flowers she bought for him. The love and dedication fans are giving out on Day 2 is unmatched.
Now for a breather. It’s only right for there to be a crowd to see Dumbfoundead, he’s everyones “Hyung.” He’s been at this music game longer than most 88rising artists have been writing rhymes, and nine times out of ten, Dumbfoundead is that rapper’s favorite rapper. He deserves the respect and has earned the accolades and praises that he receives. Everyone in the crowd mouthing the words to “Water” and “Harambe” has on his merch or is rocking his iconic “Koreatown” baseball jersey. When we talk about Asian representation in American hip hop, Dumbfoundead is one of the first people you think about. It’s always heart warming to see the genuine love that fans give him and inspiration that he is for other Asian Americans.
When it comes to fan signs, I think BIBI Fans have everyone beat. From the opening of doors on Day 2, BIBI’s Bullets, her fan club, were at the main stage barricades waiting anxiously. They had everyone held on to a single rose, hoping to get to a personal interaction with the South Korean singer. “BIBI I CAN BE THE BEST LOVER FOR YOU” and “BAD BITCHES FOR BIBI” were 2 of the many signs scattered around the stage as BIBI hit the stage with her band the Brown Boyz). When “Best Lover “ came on, I thought some people were going to faint with the cries about how beautiful she was and fans swing their roses around in the air. The Bullets are intense.
Returning to the Double Happiness stage I caught the Japanese Australian brother and sister duo Lastlings for an electronic set before heading over to see Park Jae-hyung aka EAJ. Lastling filled all the rave kids’ electronic music hearts with a full set including “Deja Vu” and EAJ stepped on the stage to delivered a powerful performance of his songs “A Typical Story,” “Go Away” and “Traveler.” MyDays, fans of Korean boy band Day6 were happy to see EAJ getting the recognition he’s been fighting for for years. “I love you’s” and “We are proud of you” poured from the crowd as Park Jae-hyung, now known as a solo artist, EAJ light up the stage with his own work once and for all.
Raveena is a magenta Punjab Space Princess on earth. We don’t deserve this precious being, but your spirit deserved her music. When it was announced that Raveena was being added to the Head In The Clouds lineup, I was so excited since I missed her solo concert a few months back. On the Double happiness stage, Raveena’s performance was like a palette cleanser from the 2 days of super high energy and fast paced music. She’s all flirty smiles and subtle grooves as she twirls around fan favorites “If Only” and “Mystery.”
If there had to be an O.G. of 88 rising, I would say it has to be Rich Brian. Standing on top of a metal cube, in front of a screen of floating images of himself, Brian comes out like a title wave, rapping an unreleased track the internet is calling “Vivid.” He’s come along way from that young boy with the pink polo and tan shorts. Those social media users are now a huge sea of phones following his lead as he effortlessly goes from song to song. The crowd doesn’t miss a beat during his 45 minute set and their enthusiasm makes me make a mental note to revisit Rich Brian’s music. After hearing “Lagoon” and “Getcho Mans” at the festival he is definitely on my ones to watch list.
I don’t think you have to know who the Teriyaki Boyz are to know their iconic Tokyo Drift song from The Fast & The Furious. While a lot of people were introduced to the Tokyo-based group, consisting of Ilmari, Ryo-Z, Verbal and Wise, some streetwear lovers, like myself, have been following the group as they branched out into other avenues and helped to make hip hop a major counterculture in Japan and throughout Eastern Asia. Their influence is unmatched and to be honest, whether people in the crowd know this or not, they just witnessed history. This was the first performance the Teriyaki Boyz have performed together in 10+ years and I am so happy I got to be there to see it. While the majority of people in the crowd were unfamiliar with their past two albums, everyone knew “Tokyo Drift.” I hope this is the first of many shows they perform at and everyone starts streaming their discography.
To close out the festival we have youth Olympic fencer, global popstar, and the “Magic Man” himself, Jackson Wang. The 10 minutes before Jackson got on stage were filled with security checking on to see if concert goers were hydrated, giving out waters and fans pulling out signs and Got7 glow sticks. Team Wang was on it and the “magic man” made sure not to disappoint.
“As an Asian artist, as a Chinese boy, my dream is always, hope. I can leave something behind for my culture, for my people before I’m gone / I might fail, but I’ma die trying. This is 88 rising. Asians always rising.”
These are the words of a man that just left his heart on the stage. Jackson sang and danced for for 30 minutes straight. From “100 Ways to “Cruel” and “Blow,” everyone in attendance was Team Wang and transported into the the mind of “Magic Man.” Like his performance, it’s dark, fast paced and militant, but at the same time beautiful, sexy and provocative. There is a duality to Jackson Wang that he is creating through his “Magic Man” concept that brings about an alluring sad boy paired with dance group Kinjaz at the end. Jackson Wang is a dynamite performer.
Jackson Wang’s words at the end of his set were followed by the cheers of adoring fans and concert goers. That was a perfect way to end an inspirational two days. With a brief intermission, fans were given a grand finally with performances by Jackson Wang and Milli ,ATARASHII GAKKO!, Rich Brian & Teriyaki Boyz, Warren Hue & Chasu and a surprise appearance by actress Michelle Yeon. There was even another guest appearance by AUGUST08, the only artist that was not from the Asian diaspora to be signed to the 88rising record label. While AUGUST08 is no longer signed with 88 rising, he made it known that he still considers everyone family.
When Head In The Clouds was officially finished, in time with Pasadena’s 10pm Sunday curfew, the air was light and the mood was positive. Even though there were tens of thousands walking to the parking lots and ride share lot, everyone kept calm and moved together.
I’m excited to see what the future holds for Head In the Clouds. Keep Rising.