March 2019 was the third edition of one of the most incredible emerging music festivals in the Melbourne area – Pitch Music and Arts Festival. Pitch Music Festival honestly had one of the best lineups I have ever seen, especially in Australia, and is clearly at the forefront of the country’s house and techno scene.
Located out in the remote Victorian bushland with the incredible backdrop of mountains in Grampians National Park, Pitch is surely one of the most scenic bush doofs in Australia. Labor Day weekend in Australia (second weekend in March) also usually has quite a temperate climate, making for the perfect settings for a fantastic music festival.
Hosting over 7,000 attendees over four days, Pitch keeps a minimalistic and refined vibe across a tree-dotted landscape, with quite a few extra activities and food/drink to accompany the main event of house and techno. This Pitch Music Festival Review will go into all aspects of the festival such as the festival location, crowd, fashion, activities, security, weather, timings, and more – designed for those who have been to look back at their weekend, and for anyone who wants to go in the future to know all they need to know before they go.
Pitch Festival Location/Venue
Pitch Music Festival is held in the bushland outside Moyston in Victoria, Australia. The festival venue backs right up to the outer mountain peaks of Grampians National Park, which are absolutely beautiful and glisten in the golden afternoon light. Moyston is about 2.5-3 hours from Melbourne – but the drive will be worth it when you see the beautiful location.
The venue is quite flat and is scattered generously with massive leafy trees which provide ample shade both within the venue and in the campgrounds (which is good to remember when setting up your tent!). Walking from the end of the Resident Advisor stage (farthest south) to the end of the Pitch Black Stage (farthest north) wouldn’t be much more than 15 minutes, with the third (Pitch Black) stage right in the middle of the two. So, basically, the venue was nice, small, and manageable. It was easy to walk from stage to stage (and even back again), and also manageable to walk back to the campgrounds multiple times a day to regroup.
One thing to keep in mind is that the venue is extremely dusty due to the dryness of the dirt on the grounds, so it’s also important to bring something to cover your face as well. They had the water truck driving around and wetting the grounds, but it can only do so much!
There were three main stages at Pitch Music Festival:
Pitch Black/Boiler Room Stage
Resident Advisor Stage
Pitch One Stage
The Pitch One Stage was essentially considered the ‘main stage’ of Pitch Music Festival. It was a big stage setup in front of white blocks, upon which amazing visuals were projected come nightfall. Pitch One was shaded by very plain black shade sails, but the passing clouds and jutting mountain peaks actually looked really beautiful behind them.
Resident Advisor Stage
The RA stage was a big red ribbed cube stage with a massive range of music played. Most of the music that had any live elements was held at the RA stage, but some of the hardest techno was held here as well. It was a good mixture of great quality house and techno.
Pitch Black Stage/Boiler Room Stage
The unique ‘Pitch Black’ stage held a live streamed Boiler Room event on the Friday evening of Pitch Music Festival, hence being called the Boiler Room Stage on that day. This stage was essentially a big rectangle raised around a stage with a downstairs platform and an upstairs platform. There was a thin film of tarp around the stage, giving it a transparent appearance that looked amazing against the strobes and lasers in the night time. They streamed four boiler room sets from here – see if you can spot me!
Pitch Pavilion/Reinvigoration Centre
The ‘Pitch Pavilion’ was a lineup of interesting activities and workshops held at the festival alongside the music. There was yoga held each morning near the market area, and interesting performances, sound journeys, and activities held inside the cylindrical Reinvigoration Center. This was a place to come, take off your shoes, and relax in reclined chairs looking at interesting artistic interpretations on a screen to music nor take part in immersive activities.
Pitch Festival Crowd
The Crowd at Pitch Music Festival was quite mixed. I’d say that nearly everyone was either Australian or living in Australia (many UK/Irish/working holiday makers) with a few international visitors drawn in from the amazing lineup. Most people came from Melbourne for the festival, however many traveled there from different places in Australia.
The crowd at Pitch was not the most conscious crowd I’ve seen at a music festival. You can often tell the respect level of a crowd by the amount of rubbish they leave behind at stages and how well they can clean up after themselves; I would say there were tons of attendees at Pitch that did more than their part cleaning up trash from themselves and others, but also many who were quite careless. This could be attributed to the fact that it may be be one of the first festivals many people at Pitch had attended, or may be new to the doof/festival scene.
For the most part people were lovely and nice, spreading good vibes all around. I really didn’t meet any d*ckheads at the festival, which is always a plus! Most people were nice and open and there to enjoy the music. People generally handled themselves and took care of each other, save a few instances.
There were good vibes all around at Pitch! Many people did attend for the mere reason of having a good party, but there were also large portions of the crowd who truly enjoyed the music and cared about the amazing sets going on around the venue. There was an air of fun and silliness going through the venue and floating between the leafy trees, people, and stages all the way to the lovely backdrop of mountains. People were having fun dressing up in crazy outfits, letting their freak flags fly, and letting loose at Pitch, and it created a great atmosphere to meet people and have a good boogie.
I think the vibe and identity of Pitch Music Festival is still developing, but they have done extremely well to get it to where it is after a mere three years. I was a bit disappointed that the opening ceremony seemed to have been cancelled, only to learn that it had been moved two hours back in the schedule causing me to miss the whole thing (after waiting an hour and a half). A bigger focus on art and tie-ins to indigenous tribes via a timely and well-promoted opening ceremony would do wonders.
Pitch is technically called ‘Pitch Music and Arts’ festival, and has this handle on all of its social media as it is committed to showcasing both music and, well, art. Throughout the venue Pitch displayed different art installations, many of which were minimalistic and interesting. The map details five different ‘artworks’ that attendees could check out between stages.
All in all I think the atmosphere of Pitch pretty much perfectly paralleled the minimalistic and monochrome quality of their website and promotional videos. The stages and posters all followed the same color scheme of mostly white, black, and red, and really did match the branding that they had set for themselves online.
However, to be honest, the art was very lacking – and all the punters knew (and joked about) this. The installations were comprised of a loosely constructed hammock temple, some large silver (goon sack looking) bags which were removed after the first day because people kept jumping on them, a really sad looking fake stone fountain on a few pads of grass and enclosed by wood and clear panels, five or six tall LCD screens that played different visuals throughout the day (which were actually really cool), and another rather sad looking circular structure of two rings of clear rubber curtain strips, with a light in the middle.
If I’m being honest, I shouldn’t be able to list every single one of the art installations of an arts festival in one paragraph. But I also think I am preaching to the choir here because I think myself, the other festival-goers, and the organizers of Pitch all know this deep down. I am sure they will continue to improve and curate their art selection and installations as they scale the festival up over the coming years. They can only get better from here. 😛
David August + Recondite doing their thing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the lineup of Pitch Music Festival was one of the best and deepest I have ever seen and the best house and techno lineup in Australia hands down. I started to drool when they first dropped the lineup as it was comprised of literally all my favorite artists at one time, including many I had not even seen before but had been wanting to see for years.
The Pitch festival lineup encompassed tons of local/Australian talent alongside an unbeatable international roster as well – all of course generally within the realm of house and techno. Certain days/times of Pitch were impossible to decide which stage to go to/stay at, because all of the artists were that good. The Boiler Room stage added another amazingly exclusive and high-brow element to the festival, as myself and I’m sure many others have always dreamed of attending a live Boiler Room taping.
This year’s lineup included but is not limited to (in no particular order either): Denis Sulta, Mall Grab, Oliver Huntemann, Job Jobse, Monolink, David August, Ame b2b Dixon (for 6 hours!), Four Tet, Palms Trax, Ross from Friends, 16 Bit Lolitas, Recondite, Tourist, Roman Flugel, Perc, Sven Vath, Avalon Emerson, The Drifter, Dasha Rush, Charlotte de Witte, Daniel Avery, Optimo, Merve, and Oliver Schories. See – pretty incredible.
Pitch has pulled in just as impressive a lineup in each year of its existence, and there’s no reason to doubt that they’ll continue to do this as they get even bigger. So whether there’s art, yoga, etc or not – the lineup will ALWAYS be a no-brainer to come to Pitch Music Festival. It’s almost as if they should just leave it at that! 😉
Morning vibes at the campsite
Pitch Festival Camping
The camping area at Pitch Music & Arts was just outside two main entrances to the festival venue, sort-of wrapped in a lopsided semicircle around the venue. The farthest campsite wouldn’t ave been much more than a 10-15 minute walk to the venue entrance (maybe 20 if you camped out in the sticks); it was very manageable and fairly small, meaning that it was very easy to get around.
The campground was scattered with really large, thick trees that provided lots and lots of shade to those who were lucky enough to camp under them. I beelined straight to a lower-hanging tree to camp, and I was unbelievably glad I did when the sun got too hot a few of the mornings but I was still able to sleep under the shade of my tree.
The camping area is a total free-for-all without any direction or rules as to where you could or couldn’t camp. Many of the shaded areas were snapped up early, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own shade/gazebo to create even more.
There were a few composting toilet blocks throughout the campgrounds, but not nearly enough in my opinion. Lines often got quite long, leading many to use the trunks of said massive trees to relieve themselves, but the lines always moved fast enough. See below for more info on toilets and weather conditions.
Pitch Festival Glamping
There was a sectioned-off Glamping area at Pitch Festival with massive teepees and pre-set tents. I will never understand the high prices of Glamping at Australian Music Festivals, but the prices started at $325 extra per person for a 10-person tipi, and had options for canvas tents or tipis for different numbers of people. There was an 8 person tipi ($350pp), 6 person tipi ($375pp), and a 4 person tipi ($400pp), and they also had ‘ High Pitch’ and ‘Low Pitch’ bell tent options, with similar pricing for 2, 3, and 4 persons. The super fancy ‘Luna Pitch’ Bell tent rang in at a hefty $750pp for two people. It did however have ALL the trimmings – power, memory foam mattress, couch, fan, lights, water, rug, tables, mirror, clothes rack, and more.
Because the venue was fairly small, all the festival amenities were also the camping amenities – it was easy enough to walk into the festival venue to get anything you needed. The camping area was close enough to just use the festival market stalls, info areas, bars, and food stalls. There were a few areas of course of toilets, ‘helper hubs,’ drinking water, and showers within the campgrounds, but most of the festival amenities were concentrated within the actualy festival venue.
Rejuvenation Station + Poof Doof
Festival Amenities – Other Stuff to Do
Pitch was one of the only Australian ‘doofs’ that really didn’t even try to have a yoga tent, art gallery, or activity area. It was more focused on music. There was a morning yoga class every day, but not many people knew about it and it was held out in the open near the food stalls. The only real activity center was the white ‘rejuvenation center’ tent, which was still an awesome space:
This was one of the only interactive structures besides the stages. The Rejuvenation Center was full of soft sand and reclining day beds, and you had to take your shoes off to come inside (which kept it extra zen!). As I mentioned above, they had different activities and screenings of artistic/interesting films to music, some meditation sessions, other activities and art sessions, tarot, spiritual sessions such as affirmations, and other unique sessions lead by thought leaders.
Pitch Music Festival had a fairly massive circus tent that held all of the festival’s market stalls. They had everything you could possibly need for a doof and more – from artisan jewelry to steampunk fashion to glittery leotards to accessories like hats, fans, sunglasses, and eve dress-up.
Poof Doof Event
Poof Doof, one of the best gay/drag clubs in Melbourne, put on an event all day on the Saturday of Pitch. They pulled up a stage on a truck and served mimosas and a full dose of drag queen sass along with great music for their epic show. I’ve seen them at quite a few Melbourne festivals now, and I won’t hesitate to say that they throw some of the best parties of the festival! They had a full crowd all day and some of the funniest drag performances I have seen – not to be missed!
Inside the market stalls tent they actually had a ROLLER DISCO! How epic is that?! If you ever needed a break from dancing to music, you could always go and roller skate to some instead.
There was a tent just by the general store (outside the main entrance) that projected movies onto a big wall. I walked by one night and saw a few dozen people watching David Attenborough in the early hours of the morning – if that’s not a great end to the night, I don’t know what is!
There were also a few General Stores on site near the entrances with extra toiletries, camping supplies, snacks, and drinks in case you run out of anything.
Transportation/Hotels/Parking – Getting to Pitch Music Festival
Most people going to Pitch Music Festival either drove their own car, rented a private charter bus for their group of friends, took public transport to the closest town/a shuttle, or took the official Pitch Charter busses.
The official charter busses were about $65 round trip to the festival from Southern Cross Station (about 3 hours), and they had plenty of times to choose from to go there/back on Friday/Saturday and Monday/Tuesday. They had multiple busses for popular time slots, and were fairly organized and almost punctual… which is all you could ask for, really! People who rented out a charter bus for their group would pay a large range of prices depending on the company and number of people. You can also take public transport to Ararat train station and jump on the Pitch shuttle bus from there for a cheaper way to get to the festival. You can also take a taxi to the venue from Ararat.
People driving to Pitch Music Festival would have had a bit of a quicker trip than the busses, but not by much. There are no rules for parking at Pitch Festival; as soon as you get in the gate you’re free to drive anywhere in the venue as long as its reachable by the gridded road lanes. The closest thing that could come to a hotel at Pitch would be the Glamping area – see the camping description above!
My personal favorite: the mac-n-cheese BURGER!
There were TONS of options for drinks and food at Pitch Festival. I was impressed with the food vendors at most Australian bush doofs as a whole, and Pitch was no different. There are definitely certain vendors who make their rounds to every single festival, which is great because they are all high quality, delicious, and diverse food!
There were Food vendors/trucks wrapped around a very generous portion of the venue, where you could try everything from delicious Chinese dumplings to the Avocado tent (burgers/sandwiches/fries/everything avo), my favorite mac-n-cheese burger place (pictured), pizza, Gozleme, smoothies, calamari, pork crackling, Indian food, a community tent with classic sausage-in-bread and burgers, gourmet toasties, and more. Man, I’m getting hungry as I write this! I tried to stick to food that I had brought to Pitch but the reality was that the food options were just too good to miss out on.
As far as drinks went, the festival is BYO so most people brought in drinks with them. It was technically ‘limited BYO’ with a no-glass policy (and one slab per person I believe), but this was not enforced very harshly. Most people had plenty of cans of their drink of choice and also options for mixed drinks as well. That being said, there were some great bars inside the venue as well. If you forgot to get morning ice or ran out of drinks at your campsite (or just wanted a nice delicious cold bev), the bars served quite the selection of cocktails and drinks. They had cider and beer alongside nearly 10 craft cocktails. I even succumbed to a few $14 bloody mary’s and espresso martinis when the only option at my camp was warm goon… and ohhh they were worth it!
The Pitch ticket cost depended on how many days you wanted to go. The festival ran from around noon on Friday to Monday evening. 4-Day Pitch Festival tickets started at $350 and went up to $370. 3-Day tickets started at $310, and 2-Day tickets started around $260. To some it may seem pricey, but for the length of the festival and the *actually insane* lineup (many of the artists could charge quite a lot for one ticket), I think it’s totally fair!
The Pitch festival security and police presence was quite easygoing. Upon entering the festival, there were police at the ready outside the gate, but all that was done (to my bus, at least) was having volunteers come on the bus to scan tickets and give wristbands. I believe there was an occasional lax look-through for some vehicles, but once we had our wristbands, our bus just went through to the drop-off point and we all got off and walked into the camping area.
There were occasional police roaming around the festival venue, but they were usually just making sure everything was okay and even having a good time themselves. Most of the attendees at Pitch festival were quite responsible and the need for extra precautions may not have been there.
RA Stage by night
The toilet situation at Pitch Music Festival was fairly pleasant. There were blocks of art-covered composting drop-toilets scattered throughout the venue and the campgrounds. Composting toilets come with sawdust bins for people to cover their business with to reduce odors, and they never became too clogged or overwhelming.
However, my one complaint would be that there weren’t enough. The campgrounds only had two toilet blocks that I knew of, and they only had about 10 toilets each. There was nearly always a line to get into them – up to 15/20 minutes at times – which was quite inconvenient. There were massive circus tent-covered toilet block rings within the venue which rarely filled up, and it would have been nice to have one of these within the campgrounds to reduce wait times.
Pitch Festival Showers
There were a few blocks of showers next to the campground toilets as well, so that people could shower in the mornings. The toilets were open for a select few hours each morning and again for a select few each evening – they weren’t open all the time. They were free, however, which was nice. I believe they only had 1-2 blocks of 6 showers at each point, though, meaning that wait times could reach up to an hour in the mornings when they opened. Make sure to ge there early!
Pitch music festival is held on Labor Day weekend in Australia the second weekend in March. March is the bridging season between summer and fall for Australia; some would say it’s in fall but personally I don’t believe the seasons change until the 21st of the month! 😛 Whichever season it is, you can expect very variable weather.
Melbourne is known for its crazy up-and-down weather, and as Pitch is still within the state of Victoria, it will be subject to the same. Early March should typically bring quite temperate to warm weather, but be prepared for rain, wind, and maybe a storm or even a scorching hot day (you never know out here!). It wouldn’t be abnormal to have one day at 32 and one at 20… Basically what I mean to say is – bring a little bit of everything!
When I went, the temperatures ranged from 22-24 most days to 29 on the hottest day. It got quite cold at night – maybe down to 11-13 – so warm clothes for the evening are essential. On Sunday morning quite a big storm rolled in with very heavy winds (gazebos flying everywhere) and persistent rain, which proceeded to clear into quite a warm day come the afternoon. This is to be expected.
Punters at Pitch music festival wore all kinds of fun and silly outfits. Many of the girls definitely shopped at some of Melbourne’s popular ‘doof fashion’ stores – sporting patterned leotards, glittery bikinis, leather body straps, chain-mail jewelry, fishnets, platform/high boots, and all the glitter. Other gals, however, were happy in shorts and a t-shirt or a flowy kimono (and a bit more covered up for the rainy days). As it should be, people wore whatever they wanted at this festival, and many decided to go with what has become classic doof fashion.
For the guys, it seemed that anything fun was the outfit of choice. Party shirts, matching colors, and silly patterns/hats/scarves dominated the fashion, with the occasional mullet wig or Bunnings apron :P. A few groups dressed in matching outfits, too – I saw a group of monks, The Wiggles, a safari theme, and more!
Pitch Music festival begins on the Friday around noon, and finishes with a few sets on the main stage on Monday around 8pm/dusk.
The set times slowly build and then fall over the weekend. Music goes until 4am on Friday night, 7:30am Saturday night (on one stage, and 5am on the others), and 6am Sunday night (on one stage, 5am on the others). Monday sees a great last hurrah on the main (Pitch One) stage with three great sets to close out the weekend. There were a few campsite kick-ons, but no official renegades that I knew of at this festival.
Most of the food and market stalls accepted only cash, as the signal out in the bush could get quite iffy. Some of the bars were able to accept credit card. There were a few ATM’s near the food vendors to get cash out, but I would recommend bringing some because there were periods that the ATM’s didn’t work.
There is a great volunteering program at Pitch music festival, which ran smoothly largely because of the amazing volunteers who came out to help. Volunteer applications will be live a few weeks/months before the festival, and you can apply to work shifts at the gates, camping/glamping, environment/cleanup, the info tent, and the bars. They also take on tons of food and market vendors of course, with prior applications necessary for those as well.
The crowd going wild for Monolink at Pitch Black
Surrounding Areas of Pitch Music Festival
If you aren’t in a rush to get back to a job, it would be an amazing idea to spend more time out in the area where the festival is held. As it is right up against the amazing Grampians National Park, going to Pitch music festival would be the perfect excuse to explore one of Australia’s most beautiful parks and check out some authentic country towns.
Grampians National Park is best known for amazing mountains, scenic hikes/views, and some gorgeous waterfalls such as Mackenzie Falls. Halls Gap is a small town just outside the National Park where you can stay in quaint accommodations and watch the wild kangaroos graze on the fields at dusk. Ararat is a small town known for its ghost tours, museums, beautiful gardens, scenic walks, and proximity to Pyrenees wine region.
Sunset over the Grampians
Final Pitch Festival Tips
- Definitely schedule time to see some of your favorite artists, but make sure to also leave time to see the sets of artists you haven’t seen before. I was the most mind blown by artists I had never heard of (which happens to me at most festivals, ha), and I’d have been sad if I only stuck to what I knew. Hats off to you, The Drifter, for one of my favorite sets of the weekend!
- Don’t miss the boiler room live stream if it becomes a yearly tradition. That stage was absolute amazing mayhem, and the sets were top notch.
- Do your best to check out all of the art – hopefully there will be more in the coming years.
- Try the FOOD. The options are endless.
- If you need to use the toilet, go to the massive circus tent ones – the lines are shorter.
- Go into the rejuvenation station at least once. They have cool things going on in there and it’s really easy to miss.
- Don’t forget the roller disco!
- When at Pitch Black stage, make sure to go on the upstairs level at least once. It’s a great bird’s eye view from there!