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Review: Ubahn Fest

This weekend was Ubahn Festival’s third year under the streets of Cincinnati with rap superstar headliners 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and Gucci Mane. Steve Aoki brought an energetic cake-throwing DJ performance to a mixed crowd of EDM and hip-hop fans. Third time is charm for Ubahn Festival seeing as how this year was the most spectacular party yet.

Friday night the entire Cincinnati club scene met underground in the Riverfront Transit center, which is a metro bus tunnel next to Paul Brown Stadium in the heart of downtown. The entertainment was taken to the next level when Grammy nominated DJ Steve Aoki took to the stage. Aoki’s set consisted of earth-shaking electronic dance remixes as well as original songs. This was one of the most energetic performances we have seen this summer, with Aoki jumping and dancing all over the stage. Electronic Dance Music is the perfect genre for an underground festival in a tunnel. The acoustics of this type of music in a tunnel gives a sound quality that you could not hear anywhere else. The set was incredibly entertaining as Aoki played many popular remixes of songs that the crowd was able to sing along and dance to. 

Our most anticipated set of the weekend was Atlanta superstar 2 Chainz, who despite having broken his leg came out on stage and gave a great performance from a wheel chair with golden rims. 2 Chainz told the story about how after his leg surgery, a nurse at the hospital said he would not be able to perform. He proved that nurse wrong and he did it in style with his sexy nurse who pushed him around on the stage during the set. Despite being 2 Chainz being seated for this show, there was still a lot of movement on stage with the many dancers and the trap music choir. His great personality was not hindered by being in a wheel chair, and we enjoyed hearing him interact with the crowd. 

There was not a shortage of food, shopping or entertainment at this year’s Ubahn festival, which lined the tunnel between the two stages. We could tell that the quality of vendors increased this year and it was nice to see that the skate park was changed and improved. There was even a more low-key stage next to graffiti murals where more diverse artists were able to draw a crowd and spread a message with spoken word, dancing and hip-hop.

The Saturday night crowd was noticeably huge with must see acts like Gucci Mane and Big Sean. You could really feel that the Cincinnati night life scene was alive and well in the tunnel. We were really excited to see Gucci Mane, who has been a really popular rap artist for most of our lives. Some of our favorite songs he performed were “Black Beatles”, “Lemonade,” and “Wasted.” It is pretty hard to explain how much people love Gucci Mane as an artist as and an entertainer. It was one of the best rap shows we have ever seen.

Speed aka the artist formally known as Buggs tha Rocka played a banging set on the second stage and showed the fans what live music is supposed to sound like and what hip-hop is really about. It was special to see the legendary hip-hop artist Talib Kweli stand off to the side of the stage supporting and enjoying his performance. What sets Speed apart from most hip-hop artists is his live band, soulful beats and lyrical skill. Cincinnati looks forward to seeing what will happen next with Speed’s career as he travels to LA this month to work on the next moves. 

As the Cincinnati festival scene grows larger, Ubahn is a special event that is unique and sets itself apart from other festivals in Cincinnati and beyond. Being underground gives sights, sounds and atmosphere that you can’t get in any other festival setting. We look forward to going underground again next year and seeing what the future brings!