Pitch Music & Arts festival’s third outing, in my opinion, was the best and most rounded one yet. I got the feeling that the organisers had really learnt what screws need to be tightened from the previous two years. I want to state the first two festivals were very professional, so to put on a festival of this standard after such a short amount of time is really saying something. To the organisers, really well done.
Rather than prattle on about what my days consisted of like I normally do, I’ll break the festival down into it’s components.
There is something special about the field which Pitch takes place in. It’s hard to ask for a better backdrop than the stunning Grampians mountain range. We saw many forms of the mountain range across the weekend, from hot sun baked one day to cool and stormy the next. The clouds interact with the humungous natural feature to create the most spectacular cloud formations.
The field itself is quite flat but is scattered with massive and beautiful gum trees. Some provide shade for campers and others provide the perfect spot to build and stage amongst.
Victoria’s drought was quite evident, as the ground was dry and the footsteps of ten thousand people certainly kicked up some dust, but its something that can’t be helped. Some much-welcomed rain on Sunday settled the dust and cleared the air quite nicely.
Pitch’s setting is something that I’ve come to be used to, but it’s still special and thoroughly enjoyable to be amongst.
Pitch’s theme of brute styled stage design was once again in force this year, and it was working well. I think the main stage from the first year was the most striking design, and I do hold a special place in my heart for the “junkyard” or “Mad Max” stage also from year one. However, the stages this year had a very consistent feel to them.
The stand out stages where two and three. We titled them “the cage” and “the cube”. If you were there, I’m sure you’d understand why.
Cage stage was where Friday night’s Boiler Room was hosted. The two-level structure was like having a club set up in the middle of a field. Just brilliant. There weren’t any frills to the stage, it was essentially just scaffolding and some black mesh curtains, but it was perfect. The vibe was always great in The Cage. The option to hang up on the balcony that encompassed the dance floor was great. You could almost relax at the stage and observe the party from above. Just lovely.
Stage three, or “The Cube” was my personal favourite. It was set amongst a few enormous gum trees which provided a nice blend of nature to the futuristic stage design. Although the shape of the stage was essentially a rectangle block, it was made from angled slats which allowed light to seep from within creating great shadows and forms. I like that it was painted red, and this especially worked well when techno was being played at the stage. Perc’s aggressive and energetic music worked especially well with the colour.
The main stage was very nice, but more of an emphasis was on the idea of projections rather than the stage design itself. I did like the large rectangle in the background was set on an angle to the DJ booth, but compared to the design of the first year, I think it was a small step backwards. What made the first year’s main stage design so special was that the lights worked with its brutal design. It truly set the bar and became a recognisable symbol of the festival. The DJ this year booth was set slightly too low. It was hard to see the DJ through the crowd and especially through the sea of ‘doof-sticks’.
Here is where Pitch really shines. The lineup is notoriously rich with international artists, and this year was no different.
Highlights for me where Dasha Rush, Perc and Dr Rubenstein (yes, I am a big techno fan). Dasha played with a sublime class, she simply smashed it. I’ve seen her a few times before in a number of different settings and this just confirmed for me that she’s one of the best DJ’s on the international circuit.
Perc turned things up to 11. A friend of mine remarked upon how nice and unique it was to hear some proper, slamming techno in the bush where you can really push the speaker system. When you really lock in and listen, Perc has the ability to keep things groovy and interesting whilst at the same time devilishly heavy.
Mall Grab has certainly changed his tune in the past few years. He’s transitioned from being an icon of lo-fi house to playing some pretty serious techno. Another surprise for me was Dusky. I assumed that they would play UK Garage music, but there was nothing of the sort. I’ve also learnt that I assume too much. They played some pretty classy and funky stuff. Dr Rubenstein had played in The Cage, which I thought was very fitting.
I wouldn’t mind seeing some more locals on the lineup. I know the internationals are an attraction, but the festival would be a great platform for a few more talented locals to have a crack at playing on some bigger staged to larger crowds. There is a plethora of local talent to choose from in Australia. I believe in the idea that what makes a music scene so attractive is when the scene pushes its locals. Berlin is attractive because the cities music industry promotes its locals, making it look attractive to the outside. It would be nice to see a large local crowd be exposed to some Australian artist to rally behind. Not to say that there weren’t locals on the lineup, because there where and they were great, but it would be nice to see some more artists across multiple genres.
Set times where very well put together, as the music progressed well across the day and there weren’t many clashes that I could think of. I saw everyone I wanted to and didn’t feel like I missed out at all.
A major piece of feedback from last years festival was that artwork was heavily lacking, and it was. The festival organisers listened and brought a good dose of artwork to this year. The high-resolution light panels next to the main stage provided a great vibe-generator for when you walked to the main stage. Giant silver pillows that resembled goon sacks brought a strange alien vibe to the bush. The stages themselves were pieces of contemporary art.
A nice hanging net zone with nice whispy sheets adorning it provided people with a nice place to get a bit of respite. You could play amongst a series of circles draped with clear thick plastic fly screen material.
This year, there wasn’t a complaint about the artwork. I think there could be a little more next year, maybe some more interactive features, but this year was much better than last. I think the light panel was a good concept to expand upon.
The little things
Pitch had all the amenities that you could want. Good showers, clean toilets, drinking water. I never once felt uncomfortable. The flat surface of the field is a subtle, but nice subconscious feature. It’s just comfortable sleeping on the flat ground.
The overall layout of the stages, art and food was good too. The festival had a nice flow when you walked through the grounds as everything was positioned well. You could get from one stage to another in a quick dash and one gets the feeling that nothing is too far away. What was also nice was that when you were at a stage, you didn’t get any interference from the others.
The whole picture
Pitch Music & Arts festival has really hit its stride. After a very strong first and second-year performance, everything about the festival feels refined and polished. There is a lovely contrast between contemporary art, music and stage design and the beautiful natural Australian setting. I truly think our bushland is the best place in the world to host a party.
So what is Pitch? It is, by all means, a “bush doof”, but the focus is on contemporary art and music rather than psytrance and psychedelic themes. The only psytrance I heard was coming from the gozleme food van. You can make a strong argument that Pitch has started something different in Australia. Its a fresh approached to what a doof can be and offers up something unique to punters.
I am as always keen for next year, it’s always interesting to see how these festivals continue to escalate.
Photos by Duncographic.