I wasn’t ready for Pitch Music & Arts Festival. I didn’t expect the social divide that would occur on Labour Day weekend because I was so confident that people would choose the familiarity and reliability of Golden Plains over the glitz of a big name lineup. Half of my friends were going to Pitch because they were performing/attending/working there so inevitably fomo got the best of me and I flipped. Overall, the first year of Pitch was successful but it wasn’t perfect. It is crucial that attendees provide feedback to event organisers so they can future-proof their brand by building upon the positive aspects and addressing any issues that arose. So for the sake of a successful second year here are my pits and peaks for Pitch: The doof that nobody expected.
Plot twist: It's a doof
01. [PIT] Logistics, limbs, and liabilities
I’ve never caught public transport to a camping festival before but the promise of a free shuttle bus from Ararat station made the proposition feel lucrative. I conveniently forgot that hopping between trains and connecting buses with excess baggage is an ordeal in the making. It was worse than an ordeal. It was hell. People were sitting atop their luggage and each other – I’m talking body-to-body. There was no clear path to the bathroom so people would climb over me and elbow me in the head repeatedly. Would I vomit from the nausea or pee my pants first? The bathroom was inhabited by a group of dudes listening to techno and smashing tinnies and the toilet didn’t flush anyway. After a few hours of discomfort, we arrived at Ararat station safely. It was here that I overheard a conversation between the train driver and a station attendant; both middle-aged women who appeared extremely distressed. According to the driver, she had not been informed of Pitch. She could have planned ahead, another carriage could have been added. She said she had been copping all kinds of abuse and the no drinking/no smoking rules of the train had been abandoned and she was left to collect the bottles and cans strewn all over the floor of the train. The station attendant advised they had been receiving complaints from regular V-line users who couldn’t board. An elderly woman requested to lodge a formal complaint for the most “uncomfortable ride of her life”. I definitely felt like a city slicker piece of shit for thinking of my own discomfort in this scenario. Organisers take note: It is imperative that you consider the communities you disrupt when planning large scale events.
“I definitely felt like a city slicker piece of shit”
03. [PEAK] Efficiency and wide open spaces
After a painful six-hour commute to Pitch Music & Arts Festival, I was feeling tired, triggered, and guilty. By the time I disembarked the shuttle bus, I had dark fears about how the actual festival would be run. I was relieved to discover that entry into the festival was pretty seamless. You could probably sneak in without being stopped, so perhaps consider an increase of security next year? I had a stroll around the festival and concluded fairly quickly that the crowd and the atmosphere was very confused. It was like a mix of people who would normally go to Let Them Eat cake, Paradise, Strawberry Fields, and Rainbow Serpent all forced into the same space and expected to co-exist naturally. Regardless, the campsites were large and there was more than enough room to accommodate everyone comfortably which was a plus.
“You could probably sneak in without being stopped”
05. [PIT] The doof that nobody expected
I ate actual dirt moments after we entered the campsite. The luscious green grass and plays on Pocari Sweat cans from the marketing collateral were strongly misrepresented at the actual site. I had visions of Let Them Eat Cake and the opulence of the Werribee Mansion which were definitely not realised. Blame the wet, hot Australian summer if you must but don’t feed me a mouthful of dirt and say it’s not a doof. The peak was the quality of doof sticks in sight. My picks of the festival were ‘Donald Bump’ which I conveniently spotted in a bin, ‘Trip Advisor 2.5 Stars’ and a Shazam ‘Listening now’ paddle being thrown in the air while the owner shouted “What song is this?” to nobody in particular. A+.
“Don’t feed me a mouthful of dirt and say it’s not a doof”
07. [PEAK] Amenities and Glamping, Darling
It’s not a festival if I’m not talking about portaloos. It’s not a lifestyle if I’m not talking about portashowers. The amenities were rationed effectively between campsites. Bathrooms were easy to find and showers were free to use. The shower signs suggested four minutes per person but didn’t have actual timers on them, which was cool at first and backfired quickly when punters had to wait over an hour in the heat for a wash. Water ran out at night and required refilling and maintenance before the morning rush. The portaloos filled up and quickly turned dire. Things got weird at night. I saw some shit. Literally. There was a wafting dank smell that immersed the camping sites a couple of times each day. No Aesop samples were in sight. Do yourself a favour and opt for glamping next year. Shower blocks, brightly lit bathrooms, tents with beds inside and electricity. Now that is the lifestyle.
“It’s not a festival if I’m not talking about portaloos. It’s not a lifestyle if I’m not talking about portashowers”
09. [PIT] Technical difficulties and cancellations
Cyril Hahn played a very dope set that was so far removed from the Majestic Casual pigeonhole I had placed him in. After watching him play for what felt like forever, it was pretty apparent that Julio Bashmore was not coming on. Apparently he had a stomach bug and was unable to fly. Devastated. Dominik Eulberg cancelled due to poor health but was quickly replaced with Jennifer Loveless. Funktion-One sound systems created an incredible atmosphere for the main stages (special mention to Midland) but the outer stage felt like an afterthought. There was a lack of visuals during the day which was most apparent when Nic played as friendships sans Misha before thanking the crowd for watching ‘Gary and the Dog Rooters’. Toro Y Moi fans stood around for 45 minutes before he was forced to abandon his live set due to technical difficulties and opt for a DJ set with help from his bongo player. It was still a sick set but a huge L for those desperate to see more.
“Gary and the Dog Rooters”
011. [PEAK] Rain and EDM movie moments
The rainfall on Saturday boosted the dry landscape of the festival. It started to fall during No Zu’s set. Daphne stepped to the mic to announce that “It looks like I’m crying but the rain is getting makeup in my eyes. Ugh”. That was probably the realest thing I heard all weekend. No Zu are the most fun band in Melbourne and they inevitably attracted the most fun crowd of the festival. My personal highlight was Fatima Yamaha. When he played his track ‘What’s a Girl to Do’ raindrops began to fall through the lasers. When Scarlett Johansson’s voice over entered the track, I couldn’t help but liken it to that part in the Oscar worthy EDM film We are Your Friends when Zac Efron cries to the audience “ARE WE EVER GONNA BE BETTER THAN THIS?”. Don’t act like you haven’t seen it. My mate lifted me into the air and in the moment I screamed “I AM A DOOF STICK NOW!”. Yep. Quote me on that.
“I am a doof stick now”
013. [PIT] Licensed drinking areas and regrets at the roller disco
The Pitch Black stage was cool but confusing. It was gated with security which deterred people from entering. I stumbled in and soon realised it was one of the most fun spaces to party. The roller disco was loose. If you’re of age and good at roller skating then you’re sus. If you’re bad at roller blading, I don’t blame you. I suck. Mistakes were made. The biggest downfall of Pitch Black however was the no external drinks policy that made absolutely no sense for a BYO festival. It created an awkward experience for the DJs above the bar playing to nobody. The space definitely has potential to thrive but not without proper publicity and abolished drink restrictions. I’d like to personally thank CRXZY SXXY CXXL for tolerating me and also slaying every set they played. On Wednesdays we wear pink.
“If you’re of age and good at roller skating you’re sus”
015. [PEAK BUT ALSO PIT] Additional night of camping
At every camping festival I’ve been to (a grand total of five) I’ve followed a pattern needing the first day to have a tantrum before I actually settle in. By the end of it all, I’m so immersed in the environment that I don’t want to go home. Pitch offered an additional night which was equally the best and worst thing to happen to me. I forced myself up far too early on Sunday morning to watch Post Percy play to a dystopian doof of volunteers in hi-vis, a lone kid riding around on a bike and what was left of me. Somehow I managed to find my way to the main stage to watch Otologic play the most chill set of their career. The music on the final night was epic. As mentioned, Toro Y Moi played a sick DJ set despite the technical difficulties. Client Liaison played after Gold Panda to an already hyped crowd inclusive of stans in business suits and briefcases. I couldn’t stop raving about their water cooler shaped lightboxes. Kiasmos had people in tears. Mind Against played a very dope set on the main stage but it was the religious experience of watching Ben Klock at close proximity that really changed people.
“A dystopian doof of volunteers in hi-vis”
017. [RECOMMENDATIONS] 2018
My recommendations for Pitch in 2018 is increased signage for amenities as it was difficult to know where clean water could be sourced especially for people googed out of their minds. I’m no festival mum but a ‘lights out’ rule would be good as there were a number of campsites blaring psytrance and heavy techno deep into the night. If there is room to keep the party going, perhaps extend the programming at the stages and encourage people to party there. The Monday morning programming included John Talabot, Soul Clap, Wolf + Lamb, and CC:Disco which I am devastated I couldn’t see but the public transport wouldn’t allow it and most people had work the next day so had to dash home. Later nights could have counteracted people missing out. Would love later nights next year (if possible). A commendable addition that I did see on site was a booze and drug testing service for campers to get checked before heading onto the road. These are a must-have for all festivals. The journey home was far more pleasant with buses connecting more seamlessly and modestly filled train carriages. Good to see that Pitch was learning quickly. I don’t know enough about art but it felt like there wasn’t enough of it. The stages were dispersed across a large field so it felt very disconnected. Creating more communal areas for people to congregate and connect outside of their comfort zones could improve this atmosphere. Overall, the community aspect of more established festivals was fundamentally missing. It’s difficult to create this atmosphere at a first-year event in a space that nobody has experienced before. It’s going to take some time for Pitch to finesse their event and build their community culture, but when they do, they will be a very serious contender for the Golden Plains demographic. We’ll see.
PS. Shoutout Ararat Maccas. You saved my life in ways you will never truly understand.