Joji, Niki, Rich Brian, Saweetie & More Bring Asian Culture to Life at 2021 Head In The Clouds Festival in Pasadena

There is so much beauty within Asian culture that often goes unnoticed… until now.

88rising, the leading Asian music and media company, teamed up with Goldenvoice to host the 2021 Head In The Clouds Festival at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA on Saturday and Sunday (November 6 & 7) and it was truly a weekend to remember!

Featuring the best music, food, beverages and activations to celebrate the culture, headliners included 88rising flagship artists Joji, NIKI and Rich Brian plus live performances from Saweetie, CL, DPR Live, Beabadoobee, Japanese Breakfast, keshi, The Linda Lindas, and many more; with the iconic 626 Night Market, the largest night market in the United States, as the food curator. 

“It feels a little surreal going through the pandemic not really knowing if we’d ever do festivals like this again, but just being here and apart of something like HITC is super fulfilling. I’m super grateful to be here,” Elephante told Celeb Secrets reporters backstage at the festival.  

Photo by Ashly Nicole

To kick off the two-day fest, Audrey Nuna hyped up the crowd with her infectious energy and stage presence by singing songs like “damn right” and “Cool Kids;” followed by a set from Rei Ami, who made sure all eyes were on her the moment she strutted on stage with an entourage of dancers.  

A highly-anticipated performance from day one was from Saweetie. While keeping her set fairly short, it was nothing less than sweet 😉 The chart-topper delivered hit after hit for her Icy Gang and even took time to hand out some shiny Icy Grl swag in blue Tiffany and Co. boxes to lucky fans in the crowd.

CL followed and certainly did not disappoint. The Korean rap star began her set with one of her absolute bangers “Dirty Vibe,” which one Twitter user described as “the moment.”

Another standout moment from HITC Day 1 came from Japanese Breakfast, who immediately caught our attention after seeing how cool lead singer Michelle Zauner’s cutout dress was. JB performed such a fun and airy set with lots of smiles and beautiful sounds. 

Before wrapping a fun-filled day, 88rising headliner Rich Brian took commanded the stage with boundless energy, despite having pre-show jitters since it was the first performance since the pandemic. Brian’s set was full of pyro and excitement from both him and the crowd — there was even dancing edamame during his collaboration with bbno$, “edamame!” 

The Linda Lindas set the tone for day two, as they brought all of the cuteness with their hit self-titled song “The Linda Lindas.” The girls — Bela Salazar, Eloise Wong, Lucia de la Garza, and Mila de la Garza — spent their time onstage cracking jokes and dancing around while showing off their killer talent and charisma. 

Following The Linda Lindas, we caught Houston native keshi over at the 88rising stage, who — in between apparent technical issues — performed fan favorites like “2 Soon” and his recently released single “Somebody.” The chart-topping singer even made surprise returns to the stage multiple times during EAJ and Niki’s mind-blowing sets. 

Other notable moments from day two came from EAJ and Niki, where they each commanded the crowd with their chart-topping hits. The fest was an important one for EAJ, as the performance of each song was a live debut. Despite not having music on any streaming platforms, the artist was ecstatic to see the packed crowd singing along to every word.

Photo by Ashly Nicole

Niki was probably one of the most-anticipated artists of the entire festival, and she definitely did not disappoint. She kicked things off with her song “Wide Open,” in a sparkly ensemble with backup dancers by her side. Fans were also treated to her tearjerker “Plot Twist” before a heartfelt speech about how grateful she was to not only be performing at HITC, but also where she is today. Keshi once again returned to the stage for a duet of “Right Here,” followed by a performance of her viral single “Indigo.” 

Photo by Ashly Nicole

Following Niki was Joji, who started his time onstage with a stunning performance of “Sanctuary” off his most recent album, Nectar.  For the most part, Joji delivered a very personal and somber set list for the 30,000+ fans in attendance, bringing the ~chill~ vibes to Brookside at the Rose Bowl. Right before performing “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” the star informed the crowd that a recent breakup was the reason for his set’s tone, receiving a roaring response of encouragement to validate that he’s not alone and will get through the tough time. 

Photo by Ashly Nicole

Closing out Head in the Clouds weekend was the “Finale,” which consisted of a generous group of 88Rising artists such as Rich Brian, Warren Hue, Niki, and more. The group took to the stage one last time to perform a handful of collaborations they had with one another, commanding the crowd and eating up all the energy they could one last time. Brian, Warren, and Niki ended the “Finale” with one of 88rising’s most popular songs, “midsummer madness,” which really spoke to the audience considering what happened in 2020. 

Celeb Secrets was on the grounds vibing all day to the incredible music while snapping photos of the headliners and beyond. Click through the gallery below to see some of the best shots from the Head In The Clouds Music & Arts Festival and leave a reaction at the bottom of the post if you like ’em!

With photos and reporting by Ashly Nicole. 


Collective posts from the Celeb Secrets staff.

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