Pitch Music and Arts festival is possibly one of Australia’s underground festivals with the best and biggest line-up. This year’s edition had a ton of international names on the program again, including artists like Richie Hawtin, Maceo Plex, Nina Kraviz and Marcel Dettman. Around 10,000 people attend the festival each year, attracting quite an international crowd.
Pitch is a festival dedicated to electronic music and art, held near Moyston, which is about a three hour drive from Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The setting is absolutely beautiful with the picturesque mountains of the Grampians in the background. Three stages are spread across the wide, open field. There is the Resident Advisor stage that is made of wooden cubes. And the Pitch Black stage, that resembles the concept of a night club and was my personal favourite. The square shaped scaffolding creates a closed space and from its balcony you can watch the crowd. And lastly, there is the main stage Pitch One which comes with the biggest sound system but also with the least character. The arts program seemed rather small. You could only find a few art installations across the venue.
The festival officially started on the Friday afternoon. Filippo, an artist I wasn’t familiar with before, had a big crowd dancing at the Pitch black stage before 7pm already. The great vibes in the air made it look like a very promising weekend. Filippo dropped tune after tune, mainly deep house with a sprinkle of disco and trance. A little later in the evening, Project Pablo performed one of his smooth and dreamy live-sets at the Resident Advisor stage. Wandering around the festival even later, I came across Curses at the Pitch black stage. The Berlin DJ played a down-tempo techno set with this slightly lazy rave energy that always reminds me of the Berlin scene.
Headlining on Friday night at the main stage was Marcel Dettmann, who brought some Berlin Berghain techno to Australia. Nothing particularly bad can be said about his set, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either and I personally couldn’t be entertained by it. Later that night, Nina Kraviz took over. Her set was definitely the most popular one of the day and attracted a huge crowd. As expected, she played dark and heavy techno but there was still a certain softness and gentleness to it, as if she wanted to kill us softly. I was definitely fascinated and drawn in by her performance.
Saturday was the big day, since more people had arrived and the sun had finally come out and so did all the shiny festival outfits. Again, the Pitch Black stage was the place to be at the start of the day. The Norwegian artist Telephones opened the stage with a groovy house set and an absolute fantastic selection. By the time Job Jobse started his set, Pitch Black was already way overfilled and a huge line had formed outside. Which is not surprising, since he tends to deliver super groovy sets, great vibes and unique selections. And again, his track selection definitely stood out, as he included so many amazing remixes of old classics that got the crowd cheering and singing along. One of the best moments was probably when he dropped “Can’t get you out of my head” by Australian artist Kylie Minogue. He also mastered the transition to night time perfectly, playing some trance and garage as well. Skatebård continued after Jobse and started his set with some moody, hypnotising deep house. Peter van Hoesen had a big crowd surrounding him at the Resident Advisor stage, presenting some intense techno. Meanwhile, the main stage was less busy as Tijana T played a rather housey techno set.
Sunday was again a busy day. There was already a long line at the Pitch Black stage, while inside the party was full on going. Melbourne artist Cassettes for Kids played a fantastic house set and just like the previous days, Pitch Black had the best music and was the perfect place to start the day. Afterwards, Marcel Dettmann played his second set of Pitch with some banging house, which I definitely preferred to his techno set. When Hunee started his four hour set at the Resident Advisor stage, Pitch Black suddenly emptied. And for good reason – Hunee’s set was certainly the biggest highlight of the whole weekend and not to be missed. He is possibly one of the best selectors in the scene these days and presented us such a fine and incredibly unique selection. There was the feeling of constant euphoria in the air and every single track was so perfect that you couldn’t stop dancing for one second. Especially the disco tracks that he played were highly appreciated by the crowd. It was truly a beautiful thing to witness.
Headlining on Sunday night was Maceo Plex on the main stage and as expected he had attracted a massive crowd. He is one of the few artists that is able to create an atmosphere and build a connection to the crowd even at huge stages. Playing his typical melodic techno with heavy bass and plentiful drops and big moments, he kept the big crowd entertained for hours. Sometimes the set got a bit too big in my opinion. Stephan Bodzin followed with an hour long live set and only took a minute to continue with the heavy bass that Plex had ended with, which was probably a smart move to not lose the crowd’s attention. The beginning of his set seemed decent, but I couldn’t help but wander off after a short while. During Objekt‘s set, the Pitch Black stage was rather empty surprisingly. He played super weird and wack tracks that were pretty hard to dance to. Objekt always keeps it interesting though, he never plays it safe. Everyone that didn’t feel like techno could watch the Australian artist DJ Boring at the Resident Advisor stage. He surely did a good job and served us some bangers.
Monday was the last day of the festival with only the main stage offering a program. Some people had already left the festival, but dedicated disco fans headed down to the festival side early to catch Late Nite Tuff Guy. He’s one of the few Australian artists on the line-up and started the last day with some groovy, danceable disco and house. More and more people started to come in, fully dressed up and ready for another day. Ben UFO was then headlining with a four hour set and of course you could expect nothing less than absolute high-quality from his performance. His excellent mixing skills and distinctive selection, including lots of UK garage, breakbeats and jungle let him stand out from other artists. The Black Madonna was in charge of closing the festival. She started with a very similar sound to Ben UFO that made it hard to tell when they actually swopped. She sounded surprisingly heavy in the beginning until Pitch finally ended at 7.30pm.
Overall, Pitch seems like the most European festival in Australia with a very big line-up, high quality in music and more minimalistic set up. However, it also seems to have less of a doof atmosphere and community feel compared to other Australian festivals. It is possibly also suited best for techno fans, since a lot of the program and headlining slots were dedicated to that genre. The nights at the festival usually ended around 5am, so you were well able to party a little into the night if you wanted to. The crowd seemed a little younger and definitely down to party, and overall friendly and quite international. The music was certainly high-quality throughout the whole weekend and it was a great opportunity to catch so many good sets.