By Meghan Player
Australia has a long-standing and versatile music festival scene, but for those more inclined towards the punk/hardcore lifestyle – particularly with a touch of nostalgia – Hits & Pits will always be your best bet.
Hits & Pits has been running for three rounds, and seems to go from strength to strength. Initial teething problems seem to be a thing of the past, and 2014 is certainly up there with their best effort thus far.
Today’s fest kicks off with Implants – a melodic punk band that comprises members of Strung Out, Ten Foot Pole and The Tank in one sweet package. For any regular festival format, being an opening act can be a hard slog, but with the backing of several touring/gig years under their belts, the band power through their 30 minute set with ease.
Heartsounds instantly earn their festival stripes from the moment they step on stage, playing with enough energy and gusto to power a village. Having not toured our shores previously, it’s encouraging to see the level of support the band receive for – and during – their set; leaving us with the hope they will return in the not-to-distant future.
If there was an award for the most intriguing and mysterious band on the bill, you’d have to give it to Masked Intruder. Having only ever identified themselves by the colours of their balaclava, the bands pop punk and general feel-good vibes seem to put a majority of the crowd in good spirits – causing the first of many circle pits to open up [even if it is for bouncing around happily, rather than swinging arms and legs, hardcore style]. While they naturally keep to their anonymous shtick throughout the set, it’s nonetheless entertaining to watch.
For any ska-punk fans attending today, Big D and the Kids Table certainly cater – cruising their way through some infectious rhythms that only increases the level of happiness in the room. While I can’t say I was familiar with the band prior to today, they inspire enough attention to keep the steadily growing crowd entertained.
LA punks, Death By Stereo – grab my attention immediately – shaking the room to the foundations with their hardcore sound. No attendee is left unscathed during their set, that opens up the full-force of the circle pit with each ridiculously frantic note; the seasoned veterans proving they are just as relevant now as they were when they first formed in the mid-90s.
Keeping the long-standing punk icons on-the-go, punk rock quartet Ten Foot Pole keep the crowd on their toes, maintaining the energy and enthusiasm forged by Death By Stereo’s set. It’s during their set that the crowd are first encouraged to get up on stage with the band, with one punter obliging – singing along with every lyric and note.
However, the solitary crowd member on stage is multiplied 20-fold when The Casualties hit the stage. They are everything you want in a punk band – sound, energy, attitude and enough brightly coloured mo-hawks to win my old punk heart. They blitz through their set with an unquestionable level of high-octane riffs – amping up the adrenalin and sweat-covered faces in the room. Climbing on stage/stage diving is encouraged – with a stream of fans accepting the invitation willingly and joining the band for their last song of the set.
By the time Face to Face take the stage, the crowd is well and truly warmed-up and ready to mosh the rest of the night away – however, it seems that most attendees are there to see the first of two headliners [and SoCal natives] Unwritten Law.
Shrouded in smoke – that lasts their entire set – the band run through a check-list of tracks that have ultimately stood the test of time. Cailin, Teenage Suicide, Lonesome and Shoulda Known Better are all received with welcomed applause and crowd sing-a-longs however, it’s the bands final song – a cover of More Than You Are [including an appearance of Grinspoon frontman, Phil Jamieson] that throws the crowd into an absolute frenzy; a testament to the longevity and influence of both bands on the Australian music scene.
As the night begins to wind down, the crowd are hit with one final – and remaining headline act – Strung Out, who promise to end the evening, and indeed the festival in style. And that they do, warranting deafening applause and massive amounts of moshing to round out the night.
Certainly, Hits & Pits has walked away from another year of absolute success. Where other festivals seem to rely on big names to sell tickets, it’s in these little festivals where the real heart, compassion and love of bringing good music to Australia lies – and I honestly hope it continues to do so, well into the future.