HITC 2022 Manila

The Most Memorable Acts From Head In The Clouds Manila

A lot of pinch yourself moments.

From SB19, Atarashii Gakko!, NIKI, and more, these acts got us feeling on cloud 9 during the Head In The Clouds Manila weekend.

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With gray clouds a looming over the recent weekend, it seems that the sky got the hint that 88rising’s Head In The Clouds festival was finally in Manila. Held across two days at the SMDC Festival Grounds, the musical coming together brought over dozens of some of the best Asian artists together to perform in front of thousands of fans. Even the rain couldn’t stop the high spirits of festival goers as they basked in this momentous occasion.

To experience this all live can make for a memorable experience, and with what each artist brought to the table, it sure was. While all acts on the lineup gave performances that entertained the crowd, some delivered that setlist that not only flexed their stage presence and talent, but reinvigorated the crowd and left that impression you remember long after the festival is over. Here then are some of the standout performers during HITC Manila.



Anyone familiar with Mizuyu, Rin, Suzuka, and Kanon, collectively known as the Japanese girl group Atarashii Gakko! knows that the girls will give a performance that’s on an eleven from a scale that’s one to ten. And true enough, that was what happened during their HITC Manila set. Despite the intense choreography and singing, their energy level was at 1000% the entire time. Suzuka in particular was a beast who seemed to have an eternal wellspring of energy that never ran out. She even learned how to speak some Tagalog, which is pretty impressive. It was clear that they were a fan favorite and arguably made new supporters in the audience.



With a setlist that included crowd favorites like The Weekend, LAW, and BIBI Vengeance, Korean singer BIBI made sure to leave the crowd happy that night. She was hypnotic on stage as she was joined by her dancers and DJ in bop after bop. Her dualism was also very much on display as while she was supremely confident performing, she also showed off her cute side like when fans taught her how to say mahal kita or when her DJ accidentally played The Weekend too early.


Denise Julia began her 2022 as a student from Ateneo releasing music on the side. Now, she has a hit song and was invited to perform at HITC Manila. When she hit the stage, she didn’t come off as a rookie who was new to this. Instead, she looked like a seasoned pro whose silky vocals charmed the crowd. Whether she was performing her tracks or doing a cover of the Pussycat Dolls’ Stickwitu, she stood firm and further solidified herself as a rising R&B star in OPM. And the butterfly motif of her outfit screamed Y2K baddie.


Performance wise, Jae left it all on the stage, his vocals were impressive, his dance moves were smooth, and his song setlist was *chef’s kiss*. He made waiting for him into the night worth it. But one thing we didn’t expect was how emotional his stage would be. Halfway through his set, the musician revealed to the crowd that he was going to end it all back in January, but it was the fans who got him through it and reminded the audience that life sucks, but better days ahead. Jae was extremely charismatic and thoughtful, even asking the fans to take a step back so they don’t crowd. It was a genuinely enjoyable stage from start to finish.


It didn’t matter if it was raining or it was past 12 am, when Jackson Wang hit the HITC Manila stage, the screams and excitement was real. The Magic Man gave us a taste of his world tour as he sang, danced, and grooved his way into our hearts with upbeat bops and sensual dance moves. Ahgase or not, it was a performance anyone could have enjoyed. And shoutout to that person who Jackson got their phone and kissed, we hope you’re guarding that with your life.


Jessi is a true queen, both in personality and action. Not only did she treat the audience to favorites such as Cold Blooded, Nunu Nana, and Zoom, but she also squeezed in fun interactions with the crowd. When fans asked her to throw water at them, she was more than happy to oblige. The new and live arrangement she prepared for the songs delighted the crowd, both Jebbi’s and non-fans alike. And Jessi, being the pro at fanservice that she is, also invited four fans on stage to do the Cold Blooded dance with her. Talk about core memory moment. And to that fan who taught her how to say the PI word, you’re doing amazing sweetie.


If day one of HITC Manila had a star, it was undoubtedly Joji. Hearing tracks like Sanctuary and Glimpse of Us live was an ascendant experience, as evidenced by the crowd singing along to every word. And even if he goes by Joji these days, his Filthy Frank side is still present as exemplified in his humor and playful banter he had with the crowd. Case and point, Joji teased that he was going to perform a new song during his set, only for it to be Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. He had the crowd screaming “Manilaaa!!” well into the early morning. And while he didn’t perform Die For You, there’s always Cebu.


The moment Milli walked on the stage, it was her show and we were all in for the ride. At no point did the breakthrough Thai rapper dip in energy as she powered through each song of the setlist with her band backing her. She was fierce, confident, sexy, and spat fire bars like it was nothing. Her fun-loving personality shined through as well like when she got a cut-out of Jackson Wang’s face from a fan as she sang their duet, Mind Games. During the finale, she even began exercising and had her band dance with her. It was a real highlight of the night.


They say save the best for last, and for HITC Manila day two, that was NIKI. As the closer to not only the second day but the entire festival, she brought the feels and the vibes. Together with her all-female band, she rocked the stage with crowd pleasers like High School in Jakarta, lowkey, and Every Summertime. The Indonesian star even changed costumes with not one, but three outfit changes as the ready. Her first look had her name “Nicole” embroidered in the back, the second was a callback to her school uniform in high school, and the last had “Nicole” spray painted in the back. Her set was a perfect way to end a magical night.


Rich Brian did not miss when it came to his HITC Manila performance. He had fifty minutes to serve and use each second to show off all his multi-faceted colors. From raps, singing, upbeat, and more sentimental numbers, he gave it to us all and we ate it up. It was a reflection of the kind of artist Rich Brian is, one who has come far from his fanny pack days.


Are we that surprised the P-pop kings were invited to perform at Head In The Clouds? They came ready and prepared to show their fans and non-fans in the crowd their world-class performance skills with a one-two punch of What? and WYAT as their opening numbers. They then slowed things down with Nyebe (which marked the first time they performed the song outside their concert) and MAPA. Finally, they got the adrenaline rushing with Bazinga and Mana complete with dance breaks. It was a well-executed showcase of dance and vocals.


During his HITC Manila set, Warren Hue proved why he is seen as a rising rap star. The young Indonesian rapper cycled through his hit songs with ease, shuffling between moments of confidence and vulnerability depending on the track he performed. He got the crowd hyped with true boy of the year behavior.


When they announced that Yaosobi was next to take to the stage, the crowd’s jubilant reaction told you all that you needed to know. The Japanese band held the HITC Manila audience in a vice grip and never let go throughout their 40-minute set. Their wholesome look hid the fact that we were about to be treated to some J-pop excellence. The group performed their pop hits as well as a dose of rock with a matching lights show and pyrotechnics that wouldn’t be out of place at a heavy metal concert. Every song they did got the crowd pumped and we wanted more.


While the inclusion of Zedd at HITC Manila initially led to some raised eyebrows, those were firmly lowered by the time his set began. The American DJ brought the party with his string of hits that the audience gamely sang along to. While some DJ sets are an exercise in peaks and valleys, Zedd’s was all peaks throughout as each song he performed got the crowd riled up. From Break Free to Stay The Night, he brought the classics that included beat drops for the best Saturday night party.

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