Set to the backdrop of the beautiful Grampians Mountain Range, the first-ever Pitch Music and Arts Festival 2017 exceeded all expectations. With eighty artists spread over three official stages (plus many more over the renegade stages), stage and lighting designs by Berlin’s famed Bachstelzen collective, an array of mouth-watering food on offer, and gum trees dotted throughout the site creating the perfect Australian ambience, the inaugural Pitch went off with a bang.
Detroit Swindle warmed up the Béton Brut Stage on Friday evening, with a set of full-bodied house fused with some groovy jazzy melodies. Keen to ease into the party for the weekend, we decided to take a wander around the festival site and we were not disappointed. We came across a roller skating rink, blackjack and poker tables, a general store and a phone charging station; it appeared that the organisers had all bases covered. We finished the night devouring some handmade toasties courtesy of The Avocado Hut.
On Saturday, Francesca Lombardo had a three hour set which kept the crowd guessing from start-to-finish. Commencing at noon, she took the first hour to warm up listeners, with her extensive builds and tantalising drops; by the end she had her fans in a jiving, fun-loving synergy.
To round out the afternoon on the Béton Brut Stage was Nico Stojan. He was immaculate throughout, and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. His uncanny ability to mix everything and anything with the accompaniment of the Funktion-One 32 inch Vero subs was a treat; from a remix of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, to his original mix with Acid Pauli “Kaya”, he had the ground reverberating and onlookers peaking as the sun started to dip.
As the darkness came on so did the rain but it was perfect to cool down the crowd and settle the dust, and ensured we grabbed sufficient sleep for the following day.
The blue skies and sun were out to ring in the Sunday, and after some decent shut-eye we kicked things off at the Electrum Stage (ZOD design) by checking out crowd-pleaser and South African born Melbournian Walter Juan. Although an early start (11am), he kicked things off in a splendid fashion, ensuring revellers were in the mood with his pleasant tech house delivery.
It was the hat-trick of German heavyweights on Sunday afternoon, starting with Âme (Kristian Beyer) on the Béton Brut Stage. With his eclectic amalgamation of tribal tech house, club-filling elements and progressive deep sounds, it is hard to pinpoint a specific genre to this DJ. His builds were lengthy and his drops hard-hitting and they sure got his supporters moving.
Next up on the Electrum Stage with their crisp production and beautifully layered progressions, was the duo of Kollective Turmstrasse who became one with the festival. As they weaved “Last Day” into their set, and the dust rose from the stamping of bare feet in the paddock, it was hard not to feel blessed and nostalgic being surrounded by friends.
To round out the hat-trick was Dixon; and if God were a DJ, Dixon would be his name. The immense energy coming from Béton Brut at this time was something one often doesn’t experience.
As darkness came on, hundreds of Client Liaison fans gathered to see them on the Vanish Point Stage. As always their glam and retro outfits were visually pleasing and they opened with crowd favourite “Canberra Won’t Be Calling Tonight”, though they seemed to lack a little punch throughout their set. Having seen them several times before and being an avid fan I guess expectations are always so high; enjoyable all the same they played all their authentic synth pop hits.
Immediately after were the Icelandic duo Kiasmos, dropping their deep minimal electronica, accompanied by a light show that would make Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve jealous. Their song “Looped” is so beautifully crafted and resonates complexity that it left the crowd in a hypnotic sway. The evening was concluded with some delicious pulled pork burgers from the market area, as it was time to call it a day.
Heading to a weekend festival is a chance to escape the daily grind and reconnect with your inner self. When you are surrounded by friends (some old and some new) in an authentic Australian paddock, wearing a costume with face paint on; shoeless, stamping your feet in the dust as it rises into the silhouette of the sunset beyond the mountains, listening to crisp progressive tech house music, you can’t help but smile and be overcome by feelings of euphoria. Pitch Music and Arts Festival 2017 was a collaboration of quality music, beautiful scenery and positive people – I sure hope it returns for round two.