Seeing a void in the music scene that had gone unfilled for years, entrepreneur Josh Heuser started Ubahn Fest, a hip-hop and EDM-centric concert that has regularly attracted a huge crowd to the Second Street Overpass in the Riverfront Transit Center since 2013. Ubahn has attracted bigger names each year, and the 2017 show will feature hip-hop heavyweights Gucci Mane and Steve Aoki. We talked to Heuser about going underground, Scribble Jam, and the Sunday morning hustle.
Word is you tried to revive Cincinnati’s legendary hip-hop competition, Scribble Jam, which ended in 2008. Is that true? I approached the guys at Scribble Jam and said, “Hey, I got a great venue. Do you guys want to do this?” We couldn’t come to terms, but I was going to make the event happen either way. As a nod to them, [I said] that I’m not going to recreate Scribble Jam. No one is going to recreate Scribble Jam. And that’s not the intention of Ubahn.
Why hold Ubahn underground? It’s the most unique space: a half-mile long tunnel. [Outdoor] music festivals are happening all over the country. It’s obvious. You look at those festivals and they’re very much the same thing. You won’t find Ubahn anywhere else in the country. [But] it’s not an easy endeavor.
What’s the hardest part? You know what happens when the Bengals have a home game? I have to be cleared out of that tunnel by 8 a.m. that Sunday. The music festival lets out at 2 a.m. We have six hours to let 6,000 to 7,000 people exit. So we picked this year, fingers crossed, and…it’s a home game.