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Rich Brian and Joji rise above the clouds

When 88rising chief executive officer Sean Miyashiro inaugurated the Head in the Clouds festival in 2018, about 9,000 attendees were present in a concert venue that had a holding capacity of 25,000. But even then, no shortage of fans could detract from the showcase that combined eclectic visuals, bold performances and a creative sound. One year later, 88rising hosted its second annual Head in the Clouds festival on Saturday, Aug. 17 at Los Angeles State Historic Park. 

The event headlined record label veterans such as singer Joji and rapper Rich Brian, in addition to a diverse set of guest performers including but not limited to Korean pop group iKON, rapper Dumbfoundead and rapper and producer Y2K. As a collective business, 88rising prides itself on being a “hybrid management, record label, video production and marketing company,” according to Miyashiro in a 2017 interview with Bloomberg News. As such, the festival was nothing short of a holistic cultural experience, subverting the traditional scheme of a concert but with the accessibility that similar festivals, such as Coachella, lack. 

The culmination of such efforts was a spectacle that seamlessly combined aspects of Asian culture with mainstream American trends. Most notably were the performers themselves, who paid homage to their culture. Niki and Rich Brian both referenced their Indonesian heritage, with the latter including a slideshow of his favorite childhood memories which are reminiscent of the visuals in the music video for his song “Kids.”

Joji was undoubtedly the main act, as he was scheduled to perform the latest in the day so as to encourage a growing crowd. His stage presence was unmatched, and his sayings from that night went on to be staples in the captions of Instagram posts and Snapchat stories alike. From classics like “Will He” to his newest single “Sanctuary,” Joji presented a concert-going experience that combined humor with his signature melancholy sentiments.

Partnering with 626 Night Market to bring street food to the forefront of the concert-going experience, the festival remained true to its Asian-American influences. However, I found it regretful that the one thing lost in this translation of tradition was the exaggerated pricing––something that is unheard of in authentic Taiwanese night markets, where the cost of even the most expensive dish would fall short of $10. As for the food itself, I was impressed by the range of choices, which varied from sushi burritos to kimchi fries.

Additionally, I was intrigued by the attention to detail in the branding of the event. Wristbands were shipped in the middle of July to increase publicity and excitement for the event. However, I felt that the fool proof design of a non-adjustable strap was detrimental to the user experience, as event goers were required to pay another $25 for a replacement. 

While the concert took place one week into the school year, it was ultimately an experience that was a perfect ending to the summer and provided an escape from the stress of school.

By Ashley Liang, Design and Media editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of billboard.com



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