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FashionMusicArtCulture

An Insatiable Festival Storm: Pitch Music and Arts 2024

photography MAX ROUX
19 March 2024

A festival experience is often shaped by the cultural storm that precedes it. Pitch Music and Arts 2024 was somewhat different. Our usual excitement about arriving and discovering which artist or stage would captivate us the most quickly shifted to concerns about the festival's duration and which performances we would manage to see. Amid a looming heatwave and the threat of wildfires, the festival concluded abruptly, but not without gracing people with a sonically intense finale. The challenges that framed this year's event redefined what a weekend in the Grampians could offer.

On day one, against the news of a highly uncertain weather event, artists and participants stood their ground and showed collective strength, reclaiming the spirit of the night by immersing themselves in dance and music. Over at Pitch Black, CC DISCO served the crowd a melodic storm as she balanced ambient sound with upbeat and joyous feedback loops. Once the program ended, crowds dispersed and formed their own campsite raves across the Moyston grounds.

As the sun rose on Saturday morning, festivalgoers knew to expect the longest pre-up of all time. Staff at the helper hubs and info tents enjoyed frequent interaction. Industrial-sized water misters were casually wheeled across the campsites and stages. Fast-moving lines formed to collect bags of ice, and people ended up being given more than they paid for. By midday, we received the news that music would play “all night long.” From six to six, mass droves of people hit the stages armed with home-made doof-sticks and beach trolleys, bracing for what was to be a marathon-type evening.

That evening, the Resident Advisor stage showcased a range of live and eclectic performances. Kink employed his exemplary analogue synthesisers in real time. Daniel Avery’s hazy and experimental tracks collided with the stage’s cutting-edge lighting FX, orchestrating hidden hooks and dense beats that made the open-air stage seem as if it were thirty feet underground. In the dark, Clara Cuve pulled it all together with her groovy yet hardcore techno.

Meanwhile, Pitch One was contesting for the best set of the night. The distinguished artist Gerd Janson left a trail of burning house glory in the wake of his set, reconfiguring classic groovy tracks and leaving no genre untapped. Later, I Hate Models graced us with a hard-hitting and fast-cutting techno, creating a mass-orchestrated brain-melt that everyone was waiting for. At this point in the evening, even the sideshows at the Tipi tents were peaking. ON3 were playing R&B afro-beat house grooves for those who wanted a break from back-to-back techno. Pitch Black still drew the masses for Horse Meets Disco, blending progressive disco with deep cuts and Cardi B Vox as dawn loomed.

Sunday was an afternoon full of surprises. X-Club embraced the crowd with a small intimate set, while Dan Shake shook Pitch One with rapid grooves and twirls. Then, the festival was cancelled and everyone was told to leave by the following morning.

There would still be the biggest reveal of all: Pitch-favourite Job Jobse playing back-to-back with Irish artist, Spray. Between the water sprinklers and the vintage-house tracks paying homage to Melbourne’s Sam Alfred, the duo delivered a euphoric closer that arrived from two different worlds of sound: high-octane techno and progressive trance. Those who stayed really wanted to be there. Crowds were pouring out onto the sidelines, coming together to embrace a fleeting musical moment. As the final song ended, there was one last riveting plea for more.

We marched out of the stages through a haze of dust, sweat and heat. In that moment, everyone witnessed the grand plains of Moyston become a kind of desert arena.

With a lust for electronic sound left unquenched, avid festivalgoers prepared their make-shift DJ set ups for one more campsite renegade. It was the ultimate festival sign-off.

Though the program finished early, the atmosphere was sustained, and with it, the spirit of the festival at large. The weekend will be stamped by its ability to surprise and enthral: to have people dance even when the music stopped, and then, in the aftermath, still leave them wanting more.

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