88rising’s Head in the Clouds is a Win for Asian American Representation

Why ‘Head in the Clouds’ Festival, the ‘Asian Coachella,’ Matters

RADII recaps some iconic moments from the L.A. music festival and examines the changing the face of the entertainment industry

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5:36 PM HKT, Mon August 29, 2022 2 mins read

August 20 to 21 saw the Los Angeles edition of Head in the Clouds unfold in spectacular fashion. The annual music festival by American label 88rising has featured the brightest and most talented Asian American stars and performers of Asian descent since 2018.

Often called the ‘Asian Coachella,’ Head in the Clouds has presented the likes of Joji, Jay Park, Keshi, Rich Brian, Higher Brothers, Japanese Breakfast, and Jackson Wang on its stages.

Many of the aforementioned artists are particularly popular among Asian American youth, and sometimes play at clubs and raves targeted at Asian Americans in L.A.’s popular nightlife hotspot K-town (Korean town).

This year’s breakout stars were arguably Japanese girl group Atarashii Gakko!, whose sharp choreography, schoolgirl uniforms, and energetic performance drove audiences wild.

An Instagram user commented that their show was “easily one of the best performances at HITC this year.”

Chinese heartthrob Jackson Wang reportedly drew one of the festival’s biggest crowds — no surprise. Dressed in a dark purple shirt and tailored suit, the multitalented artist emerged out of a fog and danced to a laser light show while performing some of his recent hits like ‘Cruel.’ At one point, he even took a swig of champagne on stage.

Wang, who has been having an outstanding year, was the first Chinese national to perform at Coachella 2022 after being presented as part of 88rising’s ‘Head in the Clouds’ set. Furthermore, the 28-year-old was recently invited to join Asian American dance collective the Kinjaz.

During the festival finale, Wang returned to the stage to perform alongside Rich Brian, Warren Hue, Chasu, Milli, and Atarashii Gakko! Chinese Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, the star of Everything Everywhere All at Once, also made a surprise appearance at the finale.

A video of Wang and Yeoh hugging onstage has made the rounds on Twitter and has been retweeted by Wang with the caption, “So blessed.”

Head in the Clouds’ success underscores the growth of Asian American voices in the U.S., especially within the entertainment industry. Not only have blockbuster films like Crazy Rich Asians and Turning Red helped to bring Asian American voices into the mainstream, but record labels like 88rising are raising the bar for Asian representation in the music industry.

With offices in New York, L.A., and Shanghai, 88rising has met success by interpreting hip hop through the lens of the Asian experience. The incredibly successful Sichuanese rap group Higher Brothers, which signed with the agency in 2016, is proof that hip hop transcends borders and cultures.

According to the Associated Press, California’s Asian population grew by 25% in the last 10 years, and nearly half of the total number of Asian Americans in the U.S. reside on the West Coast. The growing presence of Asian American youth is changing the face of the entertainment industry and creating new avenues for Asian Americans to experience, express, and empower themselves.

If you couldn’t attend Head in the Clouds in L.A., get tickets for the music festival’s stops in Jakarta (December 3-4) and Manila (December 9-10).

Cover photo via Twitter

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