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Festival Recap: Head in the Clouds New York closes out 2024’s event with ATARASHII GAKKO, Joji, much more

Day two of Head in the Clouds New York dawned cold and rainy but by the time the first acts took the stage, the sky cleared, the sun came out and the fans basked in the glow of an amazing end to the weekend. Sunday boasted sets from ATARASHII GAKKO!, Warren Hue, Joji and much more so attendees showed up ready to dance and sway in turn. 

There was also plenty to do between sets- from photobooths at the Honda Stage Lounge, pop-up installations with Coca Cola and plenty of tasty local food to sample, the grounds at Forest Hills Stadium were teeming with people looking to experience the full measure of the festival. Atlas was back for the final day of this iconic festival and here are our favorite Sunday moments!

Opening Acts Set the Bar

One of our favorite performers from 2023, Spence Lee, kicked off day two with a super energetic set to a crowd that showed up early just for him. Dressed to the nines in his all black fit and shades, Lee paid tribute to his East Coast roots and even brought out special guest Slim Jxmmi to perform on a track as well. With his energy and talent, we’re looking forward to seeing Lee on future lineups as one of the main events.

There was more hype where that came from with Warren Hue and Awich continuing the hip hop vibe of the early afternoon. Hue’s more lowkey style still had the crowd pumped up- he’s a regular at these events- and Awich came all the way from Japan to set the stadium ablaze with her rapid fire rhymes. All of these openers set the tone for the rest of the day and made sure to wake up the sleepy Sunday crowd to power through the rest of the weekend.

Girls Run the World Part Two

With so many powerful and talented women on this year’s lineup, we couldn’t possibly pick a favorite and Sunday’s additions showed everyone why. Deb Never and Lyn Lapid performed back to back and each brought their own unique take on pop music. Never’s set was more relaxed, with her band keeping a steady beat and letting her soaring vocals take the spotlight.

In contrast, Lapid’s band pumped up the crowd before she even appeared and kept the crowd engaged throughout the set. The anticipation and excitement for her set was high as HITC moved into the evening and everyone kept dancing to ward off the spring chill.

Sunday’s direct support slot was taken by Bibi’s debut performance in the States and she served the crowd vocals, charm and serious production. Flanked by a troupe of male dancers, Bibi still had all eyes on her, commanding the stage during “She Got It”, “The Weekend” and “City Love”. Between songs she was adorably shy but still kept her audience right in the palm of her hand the entire time.

Japan’s Leaders Steal the Show

ATARASHII GAKKO! was one of the most anticipated acts of this year’s festival and for very good reason. By the time they took the stage, the volume inside Forest Hills Stadium was only increasing and their appearance sent fans careening over the edge of excitement. The quartet has been bringing their brand of Tokyo Thrash to the masses since 2015 but rarely do they make the jump to North America and we’ve been sorely missing out.

Suzuka, Kanon, Mizyu and Rin are still all only in their early 20’s but the confidence they display onstage rivals acts twice their age. Their intricately and precisely choreographed routines are only one part of the experience- and it’s impossible to stop watching once they launch into “Tokyo Calling”. 

Changing from colorful kimonos into their signature matching uniforms, Atarashii Gakko stayed in perfect formation for their entire set- and by the time we got to “NAINAINAI”, all anyone wanted was for them to continue performing as long as possible. Their parting message to a now packed venue was the announcement that they’ll be returning to New York in the fall and that’s not a show anyone there would dare to miss.

Another successful year ended with Joji’s headlining set and he filled that stadium with diehard fans who came to sing and cry along to “Glimpse of Us” and much more. The stoic performer delivered plenty of emotion through his lyrics and sent everyone home on a beautifully introspective note- we’ll be sure to make our way back next year to Forest Hills as 88Rising continues to bring Head in the Clouds back home.

Check out all the photos from day two- including sets from Eyedress and more!