All photos by Reuben Bull Bull-Milne.
How can anyone be expected to top the quality of an event like the first Pitch Music & Arts Festival in 2017? That four day party was extraordinary on every front, with great care placed taken towards each of the elements of the festival, from the music, to the atmosphere, to the arts, to the punter experience. Or, as we put it at the time in our review:
“Pitch (2017) 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 on with all those who were there for years to come.”
While Pitch Music & Arts Festival 2018 was still by all accounts a riotous success, it did not quite to live up to the very high bar set by the preceding year’s festivities. One element of the festival which cannot be faulted or understated was the sheer quality of the artists on the bill. Very rarely do we see this kind of collection of premium contemporary electronic artists spanning the globe in the one place, let alone on our Australian shores. An eclectic mix of talent showcasing much of the electronic music spectrum, the line up featured such heavy hitters as Floating Points, Ben U.F.O, The Black Madonna, Bicep, Marcel Dettmann and many more. On the live music front, performances from GL and Mount Kimbie proved to be enormous highlights, the former bringing an upbeat, joyful pop energy to proceedings, and the latter offering a haunting, intricate and entrancing 45 minutes of pure pleasure.
It could be said that what makes or breaks a festival is the nature of the audience. When it came to Pitch 2018, one of the weekend’s biggest highlights was the energy and eccentricity displayed by those in attendance. Incredibly dedicated souls adorned all kinds of costumes and looks, from the hilarious (think tennis players, Bunnings Warehouse staff and space cowboys) to the utterly glamorous (more glitter and sequins than you could possibly imagine.) The rising trend of comical ‘doof sticks’ held up in crowds to help people find their friends was on bold display. Lined with fairly lights, these ‘doof sticks’ bopping up and down in the crowd as darkness fell resembled a city scape throughout the dry, dusty field.
Over the course of the four days, the weather stayed at a tolerable level, never quite getting too hot to party. Even the clouds of dust which seemed to dominate the entire festival couldn’t get the ecstatic crowds down, as they danced their way through it. Those who were lucky enough to witness the sunrise set on Sunday morning found themselves greeted by the sun climbing behind the glorious backdrop of the Grampians; seeing the stunning festival site drenched in cool morning light was a hugely affecting experience. One of the best elements of Pitch is its location – aside from the dust, the views and native flora were spectacular, and grounding.
With the quality of the music and the energy of the audience being the major highlights, the lack of art installations and spaces for the attendees to hang out other than stages was a bit disappointing. That being said, the quality of the acts, sound and stage builds made up for what the festival was lacking. The brutalist architecture stage design angle which was such a hit last year was implemented again this time around, and the stark beauty of the design of 2018’s Bénton Brute stage cannot be understated.
In what was a huge damper on an otherwise stellar weekend, many of those who departed the festival did so with huge amounts of rubbish in their wake. Some campsites were pretty much abandoned fully assembled, and the ground was littered with discarded nangs and cigarette butts. When we take ourselves to a place as beautiful and tranquil as the Grampians to enjoy techno in the sun, we should have the courtesy to leave the land as we found it, to show the small amount of courtesy and respect that it takes to both enjoy your weekend, and leave no trace.
Based on the success of this and last year’s Pitch Music & Arts Festival, I’m sure we can expect another instalment in 2019, and beyond.