Making its New York debut this weekend, the Head in the Clouds Music & Arts Festival will transform Queens’ Forest Hills Stadium into an AAPI music epicenter for 88rising’s annual two-day celebration.
On Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21 — timed to May’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — this year’s Los Angeles-born fete will make its first-ever run on the East Coast. Having hit the international market of Jakarta and Manila before finally arriving in New York, Head in the Clouds will feature phenomenal talent from across the Asian diaspora. You can find headliners like Beabadoobee, NIKI and DPR Ian, as well as talented artists including Raveena,LØREN and Spence Lee on the impressive roster. Past lineup iterations have hosted talent like Joji, Jackson Wang, Keshi, Audrey Nuna, Japanese Breakfast and Zedd.
88rising, founded in New York in 2015, cinched key collaborators to produce the event: Goldenvoice, the creators of Coachella and Stagecoach, and The Bowery Presents, the leading East Coast concert promoters. Twelve AAPI food vendors, including local favorites like Kopitiam and Xing Fu Tang, will be providing delicious bites and refreshments. Fans will get to experience a full-bodied cultural immersion via sound and taste.
Fans can grab last-minute tickets for the festival here.
With 26 artists ready to take the historic stage, it might be difficult to game-plan who to see in the whirlwind 48 hours. To make it easier to map out your festival schedule, here are our 12 top picks for this weekend’s can’t-miss performances.
At only 24 years old, Indonesian R&B/pop star NIKI (born: Nicole Zefanya) started out her career as a teenager winning an online competition to open for Taylor Swift’s Red Tour. Her clear, saccharine voice pierces through upbeat hip-hop and pop chords in tracks like “Say My Name” and “La La Lost You,” transforming the listener into an alternative sanguine space.
Hailing from Georgia and bringing the most seductive sounds to bedroom indie pop, Korean-American artist Hojean (Hojean Yi) has no qualms singing about all aspects of love. Although his signature onstage style includes a tightly tied hoodie to feel safeguarded from the public, his tunes like “Hold Me” and “Comin’ Through” present a paradox to his stage image with emotional lyrical exposure.
A multi-hyphenate darling born and raised in Shanghai, FiFi Zhang is now a New York-based singer-songwriter, DJ, producer, visual designer and creative director. Her sound blends dream pop, R&B, house, rap and electronic as well as English and Chinese, coming together in ethereal rhythms like “Nobody” and “So Beautiful So Lonely.”
Warren Hue might be young, but this Indonesian-born, Los-Angeles based rapper and singer makes songs that exude confidence and thrills. Hue integrates hip-hop with multiple other music genres, such as pop, trap and rap, to produce singles with buoyant melodies like “omomo punk.”
Indian-American UCLA student Paravi Das, better known as Paravi, first came to the Internet’s attention via TikTok as a then-19-year-old in 2021 and is now playing her first festival at Head in the Clouds. Her luscious, deep vocals bring a unique breadth to pop music in her tracks like “Angry,” but it’s her comedic positivity and bubbly personality that keeps her audience coming back for more.
With seven female members, XG is your next favorite R&B/hip-hop Japanese girl group, based in South Korea. Formed in 2022, the band’s name stands for “Xtraordinary Girls” as a message of aspiration and power. Jam out to tunes like “LEFT RIGHT” and “MASCARA,” which will make you feel like your baddest bi— self.
If you’re looking for divine jazzy R&B/pop, Raveena should be your go-to. The Indian-American artist fuses Bollywood inspired sounds, old-school blues and a piercingly sweet voice to create dynamic and spiritual music, like “If Only,” that snuggles your soul.
In 2019, Korean music powerhouse JYP Entertainment brought us the five-member K-pop girl group, ITZY. They’re best known for their catchy electronic bops with hints of hip-hop and house – catch them onstage and you might get lucky to experience “Dalla Dalla” or “WANNABE” in person.
Australian-born, South Korean-based Christian Yu is a former K-pop idol from the short-lived group C-Clown (2012-15). Nowadays, he raps and sings sultry lyrics with R&B instrumental beats under the name DPR Ian. Not only does he perform, but the talented artist directs and edits music videos for other artists, like Taeyang’s “Wake Me Up.”
Sharing the same label as The 1975 and Rina Sawayama, 22-year-old Filipina-British artist Beabadoobee (born Beatrice Kristi Ilejay Laus) only received her first guitar at the age of 17, sparking the beginning of her indie music career. Her 2017 track “Coffee” blew up on TikTok during the pandemic and from there, her dreamy and whimsical voice has only skyrocketed to reach more and more fans.
An independent New York-based artist, Wolftyla fuses her love of K-pop and R&B to create an amalgamation of captivating sounds that is purely hers. As a fan, you’re in good company – Wolftyla’s snagged cosigns from supergroup BTS’ V and BLACKPINK’s Rosé. Bop along to bangers like “DRUM GO DUM” or heal your inner romantic with “Someone Like You.”
Richard Nak, aka Knock2, is bringing his San Diego-based euphoric and bass-filled EDM to the festival. There’s likely no shortage of good, summery vibes at Knock2’s set this weekend – just imagine yourself dancing along outdoors to his live groovy beats in tracks such as “dashstar*” and “Rock Ur World.”