By Campbell Mowat and Kasia Kosidlo | @campbellmowat
Word quickly spread in 2017 about the stellar experience that was Pitch Music & Arts Festival. Expectations were high for its second year, especially when 2018’s lineup was revealed to be even more stacked with electronic goodness.
Pitch straddled the divide between festival and doof, giving attendees a chance to experience world-class DJs and musicians in an incredible open-air setting. Nevertheless, the festival grounds were to become a whole new beast when the sun dropped behind the Grampians and the ‘doof sticks’ lit up; the warm dusty plains transforming into a cool, misty and somewhat-apocalyptic affair.
Each of the three stages modelled the mountainous blue-grey of their surroundings, and while the designs had an industrial spin, they melded in with the natural environment. Or maybe that was due to the dust that covered everything—and everyone’s lungs—in the same shade of…dirty.
Once tents and marquees had been pitched amongst the well organised camping grid, it didn’t take long for the dance floors to fill up, with punters and artists not fussed about pacing themselves over the four-day spectacle. This was clear on Friday, as Moodymann took the wheel. Providing one of the most disorientating yet entertaining sets of the weekend, the maestro continuously cut the music to chat with the crowd, taking requests in between his deep disco cuts. This resulted in both The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ and OutKast’s ‘So Fresh & So Clean’ being blasted through the festival’s Funktion-One rig and many patrons already questioning their sanity on the first night.
On the evening of the second day, a whole new disorientating event hit the festival in the form of a tornado, sending campsites (including my own) metres into the air. Now seemingly a common occurrence at Australia’s summer festivals, battling the weather didn’t really stop anyone from partying. If anything, it gave campers further motivation to park themselves at a stage and soak in the selections of some of the world’s best, with the percussive house and techno of The Black Madonna and Seth Troxler making it hard to escape the Béton Brut stage.
This isn’t to say the dance floor was a completely comfortable and safe environment, with a pretty consistent amount of pushing amongst shoulder-to-shoulder dancers soon moving those more spatially conscious to the back of each stage. Groups turned out in force and set up shop with eskys and furniture, potentially mistaking the dancefloor for their living rooms.
At times, the whooshing sound of nangs was so consistent that it almost sounded like an extra instrumental component of the sets. While a bit cliquey, the general turn-out of the crowd was friendly, and there were plenty of collective oohs and cheers from the crowd when an artist pulled a particularly tasty tune (which happened on the regular). Group hugs, kisses and affection seemed infectious at the Electrum stage, radiating through the air and living up to Mimi Love’s name.
Three hours of Ben UFO was a stand-out on Sunday, everyone following his lead as he switched between the pounding Jamaican dancehall of ‘Brave’ by Dynamite back to a janglier synth number with ease. Floating Points followed this up with a meditative live set which cruised through the most prolific tracks in the producer’s catalogue.
Maceo Plex fans were left disappointed after he pulled out last minute due to sickness. One fan was especially defeated after informing me this was the third event he had attended where the American DJ was a no show. Bicep fans couldn’t complain as the duo filled the gap on the Béton Brut with a DJ set before blowing away the Vanish Point stage with their dreamy new live set.
The festival promised Music & Arts and absolutely killed it on the music front, but ‘Arts’ seemed to be slightly lacking, unless you count the crafty drug-themed doof sticks. The addition of a roller-skating rink was amazing for those who wanted to feel even less steady on their feet.
Local Boogs also put out his signature glitchy siren on the last morning, and it felt like being on a safari, witnessing long-limbed creatures making their way across the open plain towards the last remaining stage. Motor City Drum Ensemble’s closing set was perfectly timed with the sunset, getting even the most tired festival-goers up onto their feet to sing along to an instrumental of Chic’s ‘Everybody Dance’ as intricate shadows fell across the stage.
With the beautiful surroundings such a drawing card, the synchronised effort (or lack thereof) of left-behind tents, camping equipment and trash was the biggest blemish on the festival.
Returning back to real life, it was hard to comprehend that all this madness had been jam-packed into only four days. What’s even harder to comprehend is how Pitch Music & Arts will follow it all up in 2019.