Day 2 of 88rising’s ‘Head in the Clouds’ festival brings Asian artists to the forefront of music

Both established and upcoming musicians graced the main 88rising stage at the two-day event held at Brookside at the Rose Bowl.

(A previous version of this article misstated that Ikura is a lyricist. Ikura does not write lyrics for YOASOBI; Ayase is responsible for both the track production and lyrics. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.)
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LØREN dazzled attendees with a set that lasted a mere 30 minutes. The multi-hyphenate singer recently released his debut album, “Put Up A Fight” under 88rising, his first with the collective.
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All four members of this J-pop girl group sported school girl uniforms as they began their set with “SEISHUN WO KIRISAKU HADO,” their most recent single. ATARASHII GAKKO!, known for their subversive take on the classic J-pop aesthetics, gifted the crowd one of the most energetic performances of the day.
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Given her career experiences in groups such as “15&” and “The Volunteers,” Yerin Baek made a strong solo performer, serving a 40-minute set full of saccharine songs and audience participation. Baek, who plans to embark on an international tour, writes songs in both Korean and English. These mixed-language projects have been subject to much debate online for their lyrical content.
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Zion.T may be one of the festival’s most storied and careered performers, having debuted in 2011 with the single “Click Me” with fellow South Korean rapper Dok2. Despite a history of technical difficulties plaguing his “Head in the Clouds” sets, the star crooned his way through a number of his hits.
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The seven-member Japanese girl group XG took to the main 88rising stage in their West Coast performance debut. Known for their energetic dance performances and uplifting songs, the group prioritizes reaching a global audience with performances in English, Japanese, and Korean. Fans were thrilled as the first chords of “TGIF,” — the second single from their first mini album “New DNA” — rang out, marking the much anticipated start of the group’s set.
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XG concluded their set with “Left Right,” a Rhythm & Blues-inspired hip hop track. Despite having debuted in March of last year, the girls carried a confidence and professionality to rival those of the industry giants.
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Chart-topping duo YOASOBI electrified the crowd with their hit singles“Yoru Ni Kakeru” and “Idol.” Comprised of producer Ayase and singer Ikura, the duo debuted in 2019 to immediate success in the Japanese music scene. The singles ruled the top of Japanese charts for several weeks after release, and the anticipation of seeing the duo’s U.S. debut had numerous audience members dancing and cheering throughout the entire set.
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When Indonesian singer-songwriter NIKI appeared on stage as the sole female headliner of the night, she brought a heartfelt setlist, featuring renditions of singles “Pandemonium” and “Every Summertime.” Her “Head in the Clouds” performance is one of several in North America as she begins her “Nicole” world tour. In between songs, NIKI expressed how the festival held a feeling of family for her, as this year marked her fourth performance at the Los Angeles iteration.
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As the first notes of the most anticipated set of the night boomed through the crowd, Korean American rappers Tiger JK and Yoonmirae opened the festival’s finale. Known for bringing South Korean hiphop to greater global attention, the two performers highlighted the progress that Asian artists have made in mainstream music.
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When YOASOBI returned to the stage, they brought out ATARASHII GAKKO! as a surprise feature in a collaborative rendition of “Idol.” The two Japanese musical forces brought two very different genres and styles together in a lively performance.
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The second member of Higher Brothers to take the “Head In The Clouds” stage, rapper KnowKnow performed singles from his first solo album “Mr. Enjoy Da Money.” He also sang “Lover Boy 88” with MaSiWei and Phum Viphurit, marking the first time the three artists have performed the song together.
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As the finale came to a close, all the artists came on stage as collective as a unified ensemble. Rich Brian led the crowd in a sing-along to “Midsummer Madness,” one of the most well-known songs from 88rising’s first collective album in 2018.
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