After a two-year hiatus, Pitch Music & Arts Festival finally celebrated its fifth edition this month. Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Grampians, or Gariwerd – one of Victoria’s most celebrated mountain ranges – and playing host to an impressive array of local and international talent, Pitch is quickly marking itself as Australia’s number one bush doof.
Walking towards the Pitch One main stage, after a two-and-a-half-hour commute from Melbourne, it was a surprise to learn the stage was not finished in time for the opening acts, resulting in artists being moved to the Pitch Black area. The latter bore a remarkable resemblance to the amphitheatre in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: a two-storey, scaffolding-like arena, where DJ duo Handle Soundsystem were warming up by the time I arrived. The pair set the tone for the rest of the festival with tracks like Soufflé Caramel by Un Ouragan Nommé Wandalésia and Technicolour by Sota. Together, they presented a colourful range of minimal tech house with rubbery basslines and rolling high hats – perfect for a dusty stomp in the shadow of the glorious Grampians. During the euphoric breakdown in Shrim by Mandar, a group of friends dressed in smart chef hats mimed the whisking of an imaginary batter before gleefully flicking it over the crowd when the kick was reintroduced; a demonstration of the kind of carefree fun that can only be found at a festival.
The Resident Advisor stage, this year, appeared to be built entirely from purple milk crates. DJ Spit mixing into Thinking of U by nickname elicited the most rapturous response from the crowd that day. There was a celebratory atmosphere in the air, as though the audience had come to the realisation that this was only the first of four days at Pitch. Floating Points’ set was equally spellbinding, as was Eris Drew going back-to-back with Octo Octa, Sam Alfred and Sherelle.
In previous years, publications had highlighted that the advertised art programme of the festival had been undercooked, if not completely absent. This year saw the festival host a varied display of installations. Aarti Jadu’s and Joli Boardman’s collaborative multimedia installation was a thoughtful and harmonic oasis, especially when illuminated at the end of night. Three pillars, each containing a speaker, were placed in a triangle formation. From them, the two artists broadcasted healing theories and raga music.
Every evening we were greeted with the spectacle of brilliant pink and orange sunsets catching on the craggy ranges of the Grampians. A patch of rain on Sunday led to the dissipation of dust from the air, to everyone’s delight. On the last day, a crowd slowly made its way over to Pitch One for the final performances. There, the action was in full swing before Jayda G took over with a joyous sequence of jazz and soul-infused house. Left smiling ear-to-ear, the festival crowd was then primed for Job Jobse to close the main stage. The producer certainly understood the assignment, delivering an uplifting tracklist of sing-a-long crowd favourites. Looking around, there were over 7,000 happy ravers. Truly, a sight to behold.