Head In The Clouds New York, 2024 Recap: "It was impossible not to feel at home"

YOUNG POSSE, Thúy, (G)I-DLE and more brought life to Forest Hills Stadium this AAPI Heritage Month for the second edition of 88rising’s Head In The Clouds Festival in NYC. 
(G)I-DLE hit the stage at Head In The Clouds New York. Photo: Esther Kim
Now Reading:  
Head In The Clouds New York, 2024 Recap: "It was impossible not to feel at home"

A sea of Fear of God Essentials, boba sling carriers and 0.5 zoom selfies galore could only mean one thing this weekend: the return of 88rising’s renowned Head In The Clouds festival in New York. For the second year in a row, Forest Hills Stadium transformed into a lively landscape of Asian and Pacific Islander excellence just in time for AAPI Heritage Month. For the fest, 88Rising partnered with Heart of Dinner, a local organization who tackles food insecurity by providing fresh meals to Asian elders throughout the city.

Young Posse, (G)I-DLE and more brought life to NYC as Head In The Clouds returned to showcase the best of the best in Asian talent. Read on for our highlights from the weekend. 

YOUNG POSSE. Photo: Dillon Matthew

Day 1

Chinese singer-songwriter Wang OK welcomed us into the weekend with her signature soft sounds before K-pop newcomers Young Posse made their explosive US debut. Their fandom TELEPOSSE waved slogans as they sang tracks like ‘Scars’ and viral ‘Macaroni Cheese,’ having an absolute blast while displaying their individual charms: every spectator is sure to have left with a bias. 

After Balming Tiger’s slew of late-night shows in Brooklyn, watching their performance translate in daylight was a delight. Decked out in matching icy techwear jackets and gray cargos, the effortlessly cool crew previewed a new song called ‘Big Butt,’ met with howling laughter from the crowd asking “Did I hear that right?” Omega Sapien promised, “Big butt, I’ll give you everything you wish for.” 

Balming Tiger. Photo: Esther Kim

Juliet Ivy glowed in red, her radiant smile infectious from afar. Her band’s instruments were in uniform, adorned with her signature coquette ribbons and bows. “This is a song about dying,” she quipped before closing with her hit ‘we’re all eating each other,’ “but it’s fun!” The stage rotated right into Thúy, whose velvety live vocals had us awestruck. Her all-black fit had her long orange locks raging behind her like fire as she bopped around the stage, giving us “just a little twerk, not the whole thing.” The sun set just in time for crazy visuals and intense beats from Illenium B2B Dabin.

Thúy. Photo: Lindsey Blane

Given the mobs of aqua blue bobs roaming the grounds, headliners (G)I-DLE were easily the most anticipated act of the day. Neverland seem to have inspired a mid-setlist pivot; after performing “Wife,” Yuqi revealed that it “wasn’t the next song… we just did it!” From Minnie’s high notes in ‘Lion’ to dynamic covers of League of Legends girl group K/DA, partly voiced by Soyeon and Miyeon, the jam-packed set had it all. You’d have thought full-on girl groups were in the stands, with fans hitting ‘Queencard’ choreography before closing with a symphonic singalong of English hit ‘I Do.’

(G)I-DLE. Photo: Esther Kim

Day 2

A dreary Sunday morning made way for afternoon sunshine on day two, where upon entering the stadium grounds, spirits were high and the Rokstar Chicken line was, unfortunately, still too long. Early sets from rappers Warren Hue and Awich got the stadium booming. 

Deb Never’s second time at Head In The Clouds had both old and new, opening with ‘Momentary Sweetheart’ and even pushing through her first-ever live performance of B-side ‘Paper Houses.’ The vibes stayed breezy going into Lyn Lapid, with her stunning R&B crooning. Decked out in moody red leather and ruffles, Lapid and her band prove that Gen Z has really mastered the art of style. “East Coast is better,” she cracked before ‘East Side.’ Lapid also shouted out Asians in the crowd, but “specifically my Filipinos: mabuhay, maraming salamat, mahal kita.

Deb Never. Photo: Kathy Garcia

ATARASHII GAKKO! were nothing short of electric as they thundered onto the stage in their matching uniforms and broomstick mic stands for hits like ‘Forever Sisters’ and, of course, ‘Tokyo Calling’ during the most interactive set of the weekend. In an ending skit, Suzuka had to be dragged off the stage by her fellow members, but not before alluding another visit to NYC in an upcoming tour. 

ATARASHII GAKKO! Photo: Lindsey Blane

Resident “bad bitch” but “sweet girl” BIBI then took over, backed by an equally as sexy crew of dancers. ‘She Got It’ and ‘Sugar Rush’ kept the vibe tight before she teased, “Everybody think I play with balls, but I do everything with lips,” just ahead of Pride month, too. She then hopped into the pit to bless yet another fan, sealing the performance with a kiss. Fans waltzed while she ended on a sweet and wholesome note with her recent viral hit ‘Bam Yang Gang.’ 

BIBI. Photo: Esther Kim

After the cancellation of the 88rising finale, Joji closed the weekend out. (Author’s note: how wonderful would it be if all festivals ended at 9:10 pm, with enough time to grab all-you-can-eat hot pot and still get a full night’s sleep?) Despite his patent sad boy tendencies, Filthy Frank still peeks through: he tossed pool floaties into the crowd, left the stage for a couple of minutes to use the bathroom, and shed his jacket to reveal… another jacket. 

Joji’s warm vocals over Soundcloud sad boy tunes like ‘I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time’ were disjointed by some vaguely perplexing shouts from his designated hype man. “Look at them crawling back now,” he sneered as the crowd realized he still had one more song. Precisely all the bits you’d expect from Joji indeed.

Joji. Photo: Lindsey Blane

Like any other music festival, HITC fosters community, but specifically for the Asian diaspora. As a member of the community, it was impossible not to feel at home; whether they were sharing stories about their first visits to Asia or complimenting each others’ studded jeans, it was clear that HITC festival goers wanted to be there for each other. High praise also goes to the Forest Hills Stadium staff, who acted with nothing but kindness and enthusiasm towards the crowd. 

More about Head In The Clouds and upcoming editions of the festival can be found on their Instagram profile here.

Liked this? Please consider leaving us a tip here.