Review: Pitch Music & Arts Festival19 March 2019
My ride to Pitch was sitting beside a pungent-smelling senior citizen who was fake-calling someone on his phone, whining about “no intellects in the overpopulated city,” “r****ded lefty policies” and a “very fake evil god”. I knew I was in for a Labour Weekend-long journey – one that included more than bumps, darts and guerns.
Looking at how freely the people booged on the d-floor, you’d be confident that Pitch fed what it promised: a world-class, international and local, line-up. Here’s what stood out the most for me over 3 foggy nights – Four Tet not giving a fuck and eating a banana whilst fading in a new track, the Boiler Room announcer pronouncing Merve’s name (always thought it was Merve, and not Mervé), the guitarist playing for Ross from Friends sticking the Ned Flanders doof stick into his hoodie, the Four Ket doof stick at Four Tet, boogie-smoogie choons of Horse Meat Disco, Mall Grab’s new haircut and his murky bone-shakers, cooked maniacs trying to get to the front at Boiler Room, soul-food vibes from 30/70, Milan Ring “freezing” the crowd, Perc – known for being grumpy and angry when DJ-ing – actually smiling twice, Courtesy shyly telling the crowd “sorry, no more” after we ask for “one more song!” at 5 AM, and Denis Sulta tying knots with heaps of charisma, nerve and power poses. There was barely enough time to crack open a cold one.
While Pitch is usually commended for the lush surrounds of the Grampians, my memory of Pitch’s backdrop is of men taking their spot to pee all around the corners of the festival. Shout-out to the red gums at the Resident Advisor (RA) stage for being a makeshift bench, serving as the best spot to chill out while still being close to the stage after the haystacks and hammocks found nearby.
I, for one, am completely new to the doof scene. My friend, being at Pitch for the second time, has entirely different opinions of Pitch from me. For him, Pitch wasn’t the best representation of an Australian outback music festival, because of: (1) the main-stage speakers that were tuned more for a deep, melodic style techno, which drowned out the mid and high channels and handicapped the DJs freedom with mixing, creating only boring sets; (2) the uneven sound system dispersion, almost as if tuned only from backstage and not tuned for the d-floor; (3) unfavourable arrangement of the line-up, with one night only featuring huge techno heads; in other words, an ultimate bum for not-techno-feigns stuck with nothing to do, and for techno feigns who can’t choose between the acts playing at the same time; (4) the mess left behind on the last day including crack baggies, bucket hats, power banks, and yes, 10-man tents; and (5) sub-par visuals and lighting effects accompanying the shows.
I agree that there were minor glitches in the set times, such as the transition from Ross from Friends to Toni Yotzi’s, from lo-fi to hard techno – it was no wonder many left during Toni Yotzi’s intro. I also believe that Pitch still have much more space to live up to its name. Where is the art part of Pitch Music & Arts Festival? Perhaps the overrated teasers of moving image artists messed up my expectations, belittling the vertical psychedelic LED screens and huge goon bags installation.
Still, Pitch has done its best in ‘leaving no trace’. Aside from providing sawdust to make compost out of our natural waste, a team called Earth Warriors destroyed nang hills, and picked up glow sticks and flattened VBs. I will forever remember when the Earth Warriors freestyled about cleaning up and blasted EDM in their clean-up trucks, the same way they blasted trash out of the way.
For me, Pitch was a great introduction to the doof culture – the sense of togetherness and community – I was thrilled finding out friends wear hi-viz so they don’t lose their mates in the crowds and witnessing openness with strangers when it comes to sharing papers, lighters and of course, Vicks. It was enlightening to find out about #ShelfSunday. From what I heard too, the crowd was different from the last, and that fewer people dressed dangerously. I wonder whether it was because Pitch ran at the same time as Esoteric and Golden Plains.
Living with dirt, sweat, period blood, and grimy fingers for four days, I can’t say too much about the showers at the festival. The toilets near the campsite were too limited, and an emergency morning pee was a pain. After having to queue, reading the “Keep calm and be yourself” gentle reminders in the toilet stalls made me change for the better and keep my calm.
Unending camp time with the mates plus extensive dance hours means that going to morning yoga classes and Ableton lessons seems like too much of an effort. The Pitch Pavillion programme becomes an oath, especially when sleeping happens after watching the sun rise. Taking some time out to hit the Rejuvenation Centre, I managed to listen to New Age music and enjoy watermelon whilst a bald-headed man in batik raked the sand in circles. As the Centre was smacked in the middle of two stages, no doubt that subtle untz untz untz wormed into my Zen headspace. Trying to be optimistic, I realized that the rejuvenation tent provides a breather from the sounds of nangs being cracked open.
The appeal of the Thunder Dome, a.k.a. the Pitch Black stage, was its club feel, not commonly found at a festival. It gave a whole new vibe from the two other stages (the RA stage and Pitch One). Just like a club, it has space restrictions too: not only a line of Pitch-goers formed outside, but a line of complaints. Nevertheless, the lighting production of the Thunder Dome made up for its patchiness.
Fairy lights was a bonus this year. Like moths, happy campers go back to their tents following the beautifully lighted walkway of the campsite. Although not too big of a problem when hi-viz, doof sticks and camp flags were a thing, I can’t give enough tabs to Pitch organizers, after having to coming home after a long time accidentally missing from the campsite.
The third day looked a lot like gazebos flying amok over eskies and K-mart camping chairs, and waking up to a flat tent lying right on our faces. Despite some drizzles throughout Pitch, punters don’t stop, and never will; not even after coughing up sand from days before. Face masks and thug-looking bandanas seem to not suffice.
Pitch was accessible in its generous volunteering positions with plenty of rave time, albeit more volunteers could be assigned to post-Pitch with the wasteland in mind. It’s a beautiful world when everyone, including yourself, can rave if they like, especially if you’re a broke student.
P.S. To the DJ who opened the Boiler Room set before Merve, please, we want to know your name.