The inaugural Pitch Music & Arts Festival took place over the labour day long weekend in Victoria, under the gaze of the looming, tranquil Grampian mountain range. The breathtaking surrounding areas of the festival whisked attendees into a magical headspace, which persisted for the length of the weekend. Something about the hundred or more year old red gums that surrounded the area, the sight of the sun as it eased itself behind the mountains at dusk, the gentle mist that accompanied dawn and the taste of the crisp, clean air was utterly intoxicating – it resulted in a shared energy between the community of people gathered.

The music of Pitch, while serving as a highlight, was not where the experience ended. Pitch seemingly went out of their way to create a multitude of unique spaces which were tuned to individual tastes, preferences and moods. An interactive installation featured a series of turntables playing samples, which could be mixed by whoever decided to stumble in there. A tent decorated with large balloons, filled with beanbags and lit by a revolving spectrum of bright yet ominous colours allowed for a reprise from the intensity of the stages. A functioning casino offered you to try your luck, if you were so inclined. A roller disco provided a fully fledged 80’s flashback. An arts and craft tent let the creative child in you run free. Morning yoga helped people adjust to each new day. A massage parlour could cleanse your muscles of their built up tension. The sheer variety of experiences on offer separated Pitch Music & Arts Festival from the throng of other Victorian festivals. Pitch had a wide, surprising scope of accessibility.The accessibility of Pitch did not only spread through the many different areas they created for the festival, but into the selection of music as well. Albrecht La’Brooy punctuated Sunday morning with their unique brand of downtempo electronica. Fatima Yamaha whisked the adoring crowd into a frenzy during his closing set on Saturday night. DJ Tennis did the same the following evening. Client Liaison brought their joyous 80’s pastiche to the stage with gorgeous new set decorations in tow, armed with an arsenal of tracks from their new record Diplomatic Immunity and the near-classics of their first EP.NO ZU, a personal favourite here at Speaker TV whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their signature heat beat sound, laying down a passionate, electrifying performance laced with fun. Jakubi brought their soulful R’n’B stylings to a smiling crowd, who danced their way through the clouds of dust they whipped up with their feet. Kiasmos brought a moved audience to a hypnotised standstill as they performed their adored blend of techno and classical music. Everywhere you looked, someone had a gorgeous or abstract outfit on – the crowds of Pitch presented themselves as something of a fashion parade. Each stage presented an entirely different energy; the brutalist architecture of the Pitch Black  and the Béton Brut stages stood in stark contrast with the natural surroundings, but the juxtaposition worked impeccably.Around the festival site stood numerous art installations. A gargantuan structure built from repurposed scaffolding stood in the sky like a flag of pride. A collection of angled lights highlighted the walk from the campsites to the stages. A piece constructed from red rope holding white stones was mesmerising, and strange – when contrasted with the expanse of trees, arid ground and rugged bushland, this installation held a certain undeniable power.Scattered signs with the message “be conscious of yourself, and the space you are in” were seemingly heeded by the audiences who showed the utmost respect to one another, the land, the artists, and Pitch Music & Arts Festival as a whole. There was a distinct air of freedom hanging in the atmosphere, which seemed to dominate the festival. In this inclusive space, each person became more than an individual – they became a part of something greater, something bigger than any one person. The natural beauty of each person was amplified by the beauty of their surroundings, and the people by whom they were surrounded. Pitch was more than just a music or arts festival – Pitch was a gathering of like minded individuals who, in an open and welcoming space, were free to express themselves however they chose, without fear. For a festival in its first year, Pitch went above and beyond expectations, offering something unique and memorable which will live with all those who were there for years to come.

All photos by Andy O’Connor & Lainey Allen at Pitch Music & Arts Festival 2017 in Mafeking Victoria, on Aboriginal Land.