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Head in the Clouds NYC: Debut East Coast event powers through spring storms for hugely successful weekend

As 88rising’s iconic Head in the Clouds festival celebrates five years of success, the group brought the event to the East Coast for its first New York extravaganza. Headlined by Rich Brian and Niki, May 20th and 21st had thousands of fans flocking to Forest Hills Stadium for a weekend of diverse genres, inclement weather and one killer party. Atlas was in the middle of the action all weekend long- check out our favorite moments!

Rain Or Shine

Ominous weather reports predicted rain for Saturday’s festivities and they couldn’t have been more accurate- buckets of water dumped on poncho-attired attendees as they huddled in the stands or under the bleachers throughout the day. Regardless of the poor weather conditions, each act attempted to keep the crowd warm with their energy in the hopes that the faucet would shut off later in the day. 

Spence Lee took the stage early in the afternoon and, while the audience could barely see through the downpour, the East Coast native turned up the heat with a rowdy set. That energy continued with Dumbfounded on the Double Happiness Stage back to back with golden boy Warren Hue on the main 88rising Stage in the amphitheater. 

Conditions were less than ideal but we powered through a damp, miserable situation with the strength of the artists onstage who were determined to make the best of things. Once the rain finally let up as the sun was going down, fans at the top of the bleachers had their heads literally in the clouds as the fog rolled in to envelope the stadium.

Tastes and Sounds of Every Flavor

Head in the Clouds boasted an incredible lineup of not only musical acts, but food choices as well. Attendees waited eagerly for the mouthwatering Korean fried chicken, sipped bubble tea from a plethora of vendors offering their take on the sweet drink and munched on burgers, noodles and everything in between while waiting for their favorite acts. 

Beneath the bleachers of the main stadium, even more vendors provided drinks and sweet treats as the perfect pick me up when the days got long out in the weather and the sun. 88rising kept their audience well fed and well entertained- a real highlight of the weekend.

KPOP Keeps the Party Going

A fun addition to the lineup this year was girl groups ITZY and XG, two clear fan favorites if the crowd at the main stage was any indication. ITZY performed as the direct support act for day one and their cheerful energy lit up a crowd that had been fighting the weather all day. The skies gave us all a reprieve and, even though night had fallen, their sunny vibes put a smile on everyone’s faces.

Newer Japanese group XG also performed in the early evening on day two and their fans arrived decked out in outfits inspired by the seven members and waving pickets with their favorites’ faces. The group went through several outfit changes and really made their set feel like a headlining performance, being so well-received as to be invited back for the Los Angeles event this summer.


Pretty Boy Swag

This year’s lineup was both beautiful and talented but the crowd went predictably wild for performers like Loren, Rich Brian and the DPR crew. Buzzy newcomer Loren opened the main stage on Sunday with his gritty rock set that pulled from his recently released debut album. Fans turned up early and squinted into the sunshine for a glimpse of the long-haired rocker and he mumbled his gratitude demurely from center stage.

Saturday headliner Rich Brian is and ever shall be the darling of 88rising but the production on his set alone proves that he deserves to be a festival staple. Starting from a raised platform, the diminutive star quite literally leapt into the music, performing songs from every era of his career and eliciting huge screams for the pandemic-popular “Tokyo Drift Freestyle”. 

DPR Live and DPR Ian split the spotlight on Sunday, each taking 30 minutes to show off their very distinct stage styles. DPR Live showed off his pink outfit and had all the ladies swooning through his super energetic set. He was joined later by DPR Ian and the duo performed “Boom” and “No Blueberries” before Ian took a turn solo to close things out.

In his dramatic jacket and tattoos, DPR Ian smoldered through “Calico” and “Scaredy Cat” as the audience let out all of their energy dancing and screaming along. Forest Hills Stadium was packed to the top of the bleachers for this set and the cheering propelled the festival into the final act of the weekend.

Spotlight on the Ladies

HITC pulled an incredible lineup of powerful women and they put their talent front and center all weekend. Thai rapper Milli has been making waves in the music industry with her collaborations but Saturday was all about a solo stage, a pack of backup dancers and beats that shook the trees.

On the contrasting side, indie singer Beabadoobee brought a much more lowkey energy to her set but received just as much love from the rain-soaked crowd. Her setlist had all the highlights from her recent tour and allowed for a moment of relaxation on Saturday.

Sunday’s headlining act, Niki, had the massive audience on the edge of their seats with a hushed entrance that quickly turned into an entrancing set. The melancholy singer came armed with an acoustic guitar and impressive pipes and even the sadness in her sound couldn’t stop the fans from cheering. 

Following the performance, all of the acts returned to the stage for a finale moment that celebrated a hugely successful first event in New York. This lineup of legends made what could have been a turbulent weekend into a great story for everyone who braved the insanity to see them. We’re excited to see what future East Coast events will land after such a well-received debut.

Check out all the photos from a wet and wild weekend!

Story by Olivia Khiel
Photos courtesy of 88rising