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Festival Recap: Head in the Clouds New York kicks off year two with plenty of girl power

88Rising came home once again for the second installment of Head in the Clouds New York last weekend. Forest Hills Stadium played host to the iconic festival, which highlights Asian-American artists (and beyond) and the crowds braved the unpredictable weather for this year’s event. In a brand new twist, each act was moved to the main stage, with the center platform rotating to keep the music going uninterrupted all day. Atlas was in the middle of the action all weekend- here are the best moments from day one!

The Weird and Wonderful

“Welcome to the K-pop…from the dark side,” Balming Tiger leader San Yawn said by way of introducing the group. Hailing from Seoul, the multifaceted collective took the stage at the peak of the afternoon on day one to completely storm the hearts and minds of the audience. Drawing from each member’s unique talents and contributions, the performing members danced, sang and rapped their way through “BuriBuri”, “Trust Yourself” and the massively popular “Sexy Nukim” before leaving to thunderous applause. Balming Tiger rarely makes their way to the States so their performance was absolutely a high point of the weekend.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was the indie goodness of Wave to Earth. The Korean trio brought a spot of sunshine to the overcast day with their swoon worthy melodies and stunning group vocals. The crowd had grown considerably by the time the band took the stage and screeched their love for the members between singing loudly to every song. They only played seven songs- including “peach eyes” and “ride”- before realizing that they had plenty of time to add in “pueblo” as the perfect encore to the early evening.

Illenium and Dabin Light Up the Night

HITC regular Dabin changed things up this year with a special B2B set with Illenium that was perfectly timed with the sunset. As night fell, the two DJs co-produced a set that brought fire beats and actual fire to a crowd that needed to warm up in the chilly night air. The set mixed popular K-pop tracks in with handcrafted drops that shook the stadium for over an hour. 

Dabin also pulled out his guitar to solo live in time with Illenium’s mixes, adding some spice to the mix. Fans were spotted in the bleachers doing choreography to their favorite K-pop tracks while the floor bounced to the rhythm throughout the set. These two also headlined the official afterparty to keep the vibes going long after day one came to a close.

Girl (Groups) Run the World

Day one started and ended with two killer K-pop girl groups and they each brought their own flavor to the genre and the festival itself. Recently debuted Young Posse strutted onstage with the confidence of a much more well-established group and their set had the perfect balance of effervescence and effortlessly cool. With a limited discography (and all the members under the age of 20!), the girls made the very most of their set, adding “OTB” in, along with their debut track, “Macaroni Cheese”. The audience was more than ready to see their very first NYC show and gave the quintet all their energy to kick off the day on the right note.

Bookending the first day was (G)I-DLE, another five-member K-pop group and their headlining set also had plenty of fire and confetti to end day one. Emerging from the smoke and flanked by an impressive amount of dancers, the group wasted no time in showing Head in the Clouds exactly who they are. “Super Lady” was the first song of the set and the members highlighted their choreography on “Oh My God”. The crowd was majorly hyped up by this point, dancing in time with the group and lighting up the venue with their lightsticks.

Their viral hit “Queencard” took the energy levels up a notch before the group brought Saturday to a stunning conclusion with “Tomboy” and “I Do”. On the heels of their headlining set came the North American tour announcement so fans will thankfully not have to wait long to experience their show again.

Day one of year two was a seamless experience- from moving the acts to a singular rotating stage to streamlining the food vendors and pop-up installments, fans had plenty to see and plenty to do throughout the weekend. Check out more photos, including sets from Thuy, Juliet Ivy, Wang Ok and more!