Pitch Music & Arts Festival Prepares to Deploy Australia’s Largest Ever Funktion-One Sound System


“Sound has always been an important element in our events from the very beginning,” says Pitch Music & Arts Festival’s Filippo Palermo. “It’s always a big deal for a lot of people that come to the festival to know that we have Funktion-One.”

Since 2017, Pitch Music & Arts has become one of Australia’s most important and distinctive events for underground electronic music. Located in the foothills of the Grampian plains, the four-day party describes itself as “an ode to self-discovery, creativity and inclusion”, and their high-quality line ups have boasted an array of domestic and international talent. The 2024 edition is no exception with Gerd Janson, Chippy Nonstop and Jennifer Loveless among the many artists due to perform.  

“The naturally engineered sound makes it so unique and special. I think people who have experienced it can feel the difference, particularly in the low end.”

The sound system and its deployment are key ingredients in its success. The next edition of the festival, taking place on 8-12 March, will feature Australia’s largest ever Funktion-One sound system - a huge Vero setup on the award winning main stage (Pitch 1), designed and supplied by Adam Ward's Full Throttle Entertainment. In addition, Chris Lath's Purple Audio will supply a Funktion-One Evo 7 system for Pitch 3.

“It's important to us that the audience’s experience of the music is delivered at the best possible standard,” says Filippo. “Funktion-One is a key component in helping us to provide the highest quality audio that we can.”

[Photos by Duncographic and Will Hamilton Coates]

Filippo’s first dalliances in dance music came through his parents who helped him make the transition from guitar bands into beats and bass. 

“My mum gave me a CD which had ‘Homework’ written on the front and I first thought it was a joke telling me to do better in school,” he laughs. “But there were two robots on there too and it was actually the ‘Homework’ album by Daft Punk. At that point I fell in love with electronic music and decided that I wanted to be a DJ.”

Ever since, Filippo has been under the spell of dance music culture, soaking up records, influences and inspirations. He took his passion into promotion during the 2000s, organising his own DJing exploits in Melbourne, playing at clubs and different parties before linking up with Dom Dolla (who has gone on to be one of Australia’s top dance music exports) and business partners - Michael Christidis, Nicholas Greco and Christian Serrao. 

It is this team who now drive Untitled, Australia’s largest independent live music company, responsible for sell-out tours, parties and, of course, festivals. Their spiralling success has led to Filippo and Michael being named in Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list for North America. The team’s venue promotions include parties at the, now sadly defunct, Palace Theatre in Melbourne, where they packed the venue with more than 3,000 ravers every weekend with artists like Alison Wonderland, Raiders and Dom Dolla.

“We were booking a whole bunch of big up-and-coming artists who have gone to global success like Rüfüs Du Sol and Dom,” says Filippo about how their business exploded. “We found an entry point into the market where we were cultivating community and culture and relationships through fostering emerging talent like these DJs and producers who are now massive stars.”

Moving into the festival market was always a priority for Untitled. Their first, Beyond the Valley, has hosted artists ranging from Nelly Furtado to Peggy Gou, Little Dragon and Tyler, The Creator. Bouncing back from a first year loss in 2014, the festival has gone from strength to strength over the last decade. 

“We confirmed Jamie xx just after he had released ‘In Colour’, UK grime artist Skepta as he was on the up, Flight Facilities after ‘Down to Earth’ and thankfully we made back the money we had lost,” Filippo says. 

With this success under their belts, Filippo and his partners launched the Pitch Arts & Music Festival in 2017, again recovering from a challenging first year to grow the event into the 18,000-capacity spectacle it is today.

“We are now a fully-fledged professional company with 75 full time staff,” Filippo explains. “It’s very important to us that we’ve created a great culture within our company as well as offering fantastic festival experiences.” 

Pitch Music & Arts set out with the aim of offering bespoke experiences paired with cutting edge electronic talent. According to Filippo, Pitch stood out from the rest of the marketplace at the time due to a focus on techno and house artists, as well as the brutalist aesthetic of Pitch's stage designs compared to other electronic multi-day festivals. Many events at the time had a strong focus on psytrance and a more colourful look and feel. Instead, Filippo and his team curated contemporary line ups featuring people like Nina Kravitz, Ben Klock and Julio Bashmore. 

“Artists that were kind of having moments back then in 2017 when we first launched,” Filippo says. “What made it so special was the fact it was the first festival in Australia to replicate what you would see in Europe with tastemaker promoters like Lost Village, Dekmantel or Sonar. A lot of Australians were flying to Europe in June, July and August, but those line-ups didn't exist here. Our aim was to cater for that specific market.”

Many of those Australian ravers who had experienced the psytrance events had already experienced the feeling and enjoyment of a Funktion-One sound system. 

“The reputation of Funktion-One was a huge part of the appeal, both for punters, sound nerds and artists who know how to get the best from this system,” says Filippo. “The naturally engineered sound makes it so unique and special. I think people who have experienced it can feel the difference, particularly in the low end.” 

Full Throttle Entertainment, under the direction of owner Adam Ward, will deliver the landmark main stage sound for this year’s festival. “Adam has been an absolute asset, helping to create the festival that we have today,” says Filippo. “This year, he's delivering the biggest deployment of Funktion-One in Australian history. It's not so much about deploying the loudest system; although it's the biggest, we’re not cranking it out. Everything is humming along at something like 40% capacity, so no matter where you are on the dancefloor, you can hear the quality of the audio. 

“The sound system is an art piece in itself, especially when it's a giant 24 box flown system, plus delays, in-fills and monitors,” Filippo adds. “The stage has been designed by local architects Ambrose Zacharakis and Henry Howson, and the aesthetic of the Funktion-One system has really fed into its charm.”


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