Column: Head over heels for Head in the Clouds

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Photo credit: Sogna Louie ('23)

Jackson Wang performs at Head in the Clouds. Located at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the annual music festival celebrates Asian and Asian American artists and culture.

By Sydney Frank , Columnist

It’s no secret that the annual LA-based music festival Head in the Clouds was a massive success this summer with more than 30,000 people in attendance.

Created by the record label 88Rising, the weekend-long event spotlights talented Asian artists the label sponsors. With big-name artists headlining, such as Rich Brian, Jackson Wang, NIKI and Joji, it’s not hard to see why fans have dubbed it the “Asian Coachella.”

Fans had the opportunity to immerse themselves in Asian culture for the weekend of Aug. 20-21, with incredible street food vendors, courtesy of the infamous 626 Night Market, and spectacular live performances of genres spanning from rap to K-pop to indie rock to R&B.

The best music events are those where it isn’t a necessity to know every artist on the lineup to have a good time, and Head in the Clouds is the perfect example of this. Although the festival has some amazing live performances, I don’t think this is why people were so anxious to attend; the festival’s celebration of Asian and Asian American identity made fans feel a sense of belonging that was lost after the start of the pandemic.

After years of heightened hate directed at Asian communities due to COVID-19, I think that people desperately needed a place where they could be unapologetically themselves and not be ashamed of their identity.

Sogna Louie, a senior at the Archer School for Girls, felt the same way, saying that when she attended the festival this summer, she felt safe and connected to those around her.

“It was really nice being around a lot of people who enjoy the same music as me,” Louie said. “It felt like a community.”

Although I could not attend Head in the Clouds this summer, I made sure to keep up with it, whether it be from various online posts I saw or from my friends who went. Seeing an entire music festival dedicated to celebrating Asian culture is so incredible and is unlike any other music event I know of.

As a music lover and avid concert-goer, I could tell right away that Head in the Clouds was different from the typical Coachella or Lollapalooza festival. Rather than fans flocking to these big festivals to take Instagram pictures and see maybe one artist, Head in the Clouds offers an all-encompassing experience where fans can feel at home.

What makes this festival special, in particular, is that we can relate to every artist who steps onto that stage through our culture, identities, or love of music.

To see people who look like us using their influence to appreciate us means more to me than anything else.

To put it simply, Head in the Clouds is an Asian event made for people to celebrate being Asian.

Music is the one universal language of our world. No matter what language you speak, or where you live, music has the power to bring people together.

Music makes us feel like we belong.