Pitch Music & Arts 2020: Review

Posted by - - Festivals, HYH Down Under, Review

In the midst of lockdown, we reflect on the somewhat more unifying times of Pitch 2020, when 10,000 revelers descended upon the otherwise unoccupied Grampians plains for four days of uncensored fun.

Over the course of the weekend, 47 of the world’s finest electronic acts played across three stages while 17 of Australia’s most talented artists showcased exhibitions and installations throughout the site.

The 2020 offering truly showcased one of the most talented listings the Australian festival scene has witnessed, a testament to Novel, who went above and beyond to create an experience which outclassed the former years. The overwhelming and unanimous feedback from OG Pitch-goers was that 2020 had been the best year to date, and as a Pitch first-timer I can safely say it was up there with the best.

Here’s what went down…

Friday

Marcel Dettmann and Nina Kraviz were among the names kicking off proceedings on the Friday, both playing at the Pitch One stage. Dettmann played quintessential techno, starting slowly and gradually ramping up the intensity. This was his first of two appearances at Pitch, his second an unprecedented house set on the Sunday. His Friday performance was a fitting warm-up for Nina Kraviz, the techno powerhouse whose set sent vibrations through the Pitch One arena, featuring her signature metallic sound.

Pitch One was the festival’s main stage. It stayed open the latest and played host to most of the headline acts. The pyrotechnics were on point at Pitch One, with a light-show that rivalled the best venues in the world. It was the only stage which was covered overhead, and provided that dark, end-of-night refuge sought at 3am when the other two stages had closed.

 

 

The Resident Advisor stage was back for its fourth year, more intrinsically built this time around. On Friday, the RA stage played host to Project Pablo, Sleep D, SPFDJ and Regis. SPFDJ was a crowd favourite, spinning high-speed techno, followed by Regis, who closed the stage for the night with even harder sounds.

Saturday

The Saturday of Pitch saw techno heavyweight Kobosil kick off his first Australian tour. The Berghain resident played fast and fiery techno on the Resident Advisor stage. Following DJ Nobu, Peter Van Hoesen and Aurora Halal, Kobosil kept up the heated vibe with his heavy track selection and dynamic sound. He kept techno lovers entertained into the night and we hope to see more of him on the Australian music circuit.

Switching up the vibe, Fantastic Man closed the Pitch One stage from 3-5am with a genre-bending, Latin-inspired set. The Melbourne-based producer kept the tempo high, weaving forgotten favourites such as Like the Deserts Missed the Rain into an unpredictable couple of hours.

 

Sunday

Dettmann or Midland, Hunee or Hawtin, Bodzin or Boring? Sunday’s line-up required some serious planning, as each stage presented a faultless back-to-back line-up (and some inevitable clashes).

Within the first 5 minutes of his 90 minute set, Cassettes For Kids steamrolled straight into our top acts of the weekend. Playing mid-afternoon on the Pitch Black stage, he cut through with high-energy house, infused with garage, disco and electro. In amongst the mayhem, we were treated to one of the first plays of new EP Dreams, released only a couple of weeks pre-Pitch. The energy was electric, only heightened by the impeccably smooth genre switch-up and undeniable connection CFK has with the crowd. Pure pandemonium, and the perfect prelude for what was to follow.

Following CFK on the Pitch Black stage was the man, the legend, Marcel Dettmann, who was back for round 2 – this time a rare house set. Dettmann manoeuvred his 3 hour set seamlessly, mixing house in with funk and soul, even dropping Mike Dunn’s classic, God Made Me Phunky.

The Pitch Black stage, a charming two-story, open-air framework, leant itself well to these more upbeat, dynamic performances. The scaffold structure enabled a 360 view of the dancefloor and DJ booth which made you feel in the mix regardless of where you pitched up. The energy that exuded from Pitch Black was contagious and just oozed charisma. The only drawback (which I’m sure organisers will be mindful of in the future) was the entry situation, as there was the occasional queue to access the stage.

Midway through Dettmann’s set, we darted across to the Pitch One stage where London producer, Midland had the crowds in absolute uproar. His set was in full swing, the party vibes were flowing and with Hawin, Plex, Bodzin and ANNA to come, we dropped anchor for the night.

Richie Hawtin took over at 8pm, with the daunting undertaking of warming up for headliner, Maceo Plex. For a producer who’s been kicking around since the mid-90’s, Hawtin’s passion shines through in every set and this one was no different. He delivered melodic techno which kept the crowd hooked, right through until the handover to Plex.

We could hardly get away without mentioning the one and only Maceo Plex, who returned down under for his first Australian show in seven years. Fans had been itching for a visit following a series of cancelled shows last year and he did not disappoint. The king of techno took us on quite the journey, mixing older tracks in with his new material including 2019 release, Destination Mars, his first EP on Drumcode in 5 years. The futurist single sounds as space-age as the title would suggest, and had festival-goers in a total frenzy.

Monday

The final day of the festival saw Late Nite Tuff Guy, Ben UFO and The Black Madonna take to the Pitch One stage.

Former Mixmag DJ of the year, the Black Madonna, closed the festival, playing the highly charged, up-tempo tracks we’ve come to know and love from her. Madge never fails to put on a show and her Pitch performance was no different. Her penchant for disco culminated in an eclectic and fun set, and closing track Carol Williams- Love Is You (Dimitri From Paris remix) sent the crowd into absolute meltdown. Well played, Madge.

The site

To say Pitch was picturesque would be an understatement. Freshly landscaped fields against a mountainous backdrop made for quite the walk to and from the campsite, especially at dusk as the light installations flickered to life. Organisers had invested heavily into the site, focusing on creating a space which harnessed the natural beauty of the location, whilst optimising the functionality – beauty and brains, what a catch.

As you’d expect from an event a stones throw from Melbourne, the food and drink selection was extensive and catered to all dietary requirements. Standard festival fare from Nomads Pizza, Baby Burgers and Pulled Kitchen was on offer alongside some more nourishing options from Superfood Smoothies, Vegilicious and Jude’s Lemons. There were also a couple of bars serving up a range of cocktails, spirits and beers.

Amenities were about as good as you’re likely to get at a 4 day festival in the middle of nowhere, with plenty of toilets (the eco variety) and a few showers open for a couple of hours a day.

Art

MOMA, CL X MOPMA

An assembly of exhibitions and art installations were dotted around the site, including Pitch’s answer to MOMA, CL X MOPMA (Crystal Landscape X Museum of Pitch Music & Arts, naturally). Curated by Melbourne-based artist Emme Orbach, ‘CL X MOPMA’ showcased crystalline formations over aluminium sculptures, which made for some pretty cool viewing. Visitors were told to ‘expect the curious and absurd: with mechanical self-destroying artworks, immersive digital-crystal caves, and delicate metal forms dripping with glistening geometric structures.’ A very apt addition to the Pitch art collection.

Georgie Pinn’s ECHO OCHE OHCE

Other exhibitions included Georgie Pinn’s ECHO OCHE OHCE, which showed a mirrored reflection of your ECHO. This giant interactive head sculpture is formed from 30,000 facial identities and invites you to step into the shoes of another. OHCE is a brand-new development of the internationally acclaimed project ECHO, by Georgie Pinn. The work uses morphing technology, storytelling and interactive visual effects to connect you through empathy.

In what was almost certainly the last event of its kind for some time, we couldn’t be more thankful to have experienced Pitch in all its glory, and to have these memories see us through the next few months.

We extend our gratitude to all involved in the making of Pitch and look forward to the next one, whenever it may be.

Keep safe & keep dancing.

HYH x

Photo credit: DUNCOGRAPHIC, WILL HAMILTON-COATS, JACKSON GRANT