Battle of the Knobs

Wed Feb 11


With recent installments in Portland, Seattle, and Portland VERSUS Seattle, the Fourthcity Laptop Battle is coming up in a manner of the DMC DJ Championships (grassroots at first, but set to take over like a bamboo tree). And while it pits live laptop musicians against each other to the death, its rules are strict about LAPTOPS ONLY: that is, no outboard gear, meaning no mics, synths, controllers, or little hamsters on a spindle wheel can be used in conjunction with the computer.

Battle of the Knobs, on the other hand, takes the idea of the Laptop Battle and flavors it with a little Western Expansion vibe. BotK organizer/ PDX Laptop Battler Bllix, aka Meagan Johnson, felt the Laptop Battle's no-outboard-gear law was restrictive, as was the three-minute time limit on compositions. Says Bllix, "Ask any electronic musician if they want to limit their show of skill and musical ability to three minutes, using only a laptop, or if they'd rather play 20 minutes and use whatever gear and instruments they please." Straight-up, ladywoman. That's why the Knobs battle isn't a laptop battle, and allows each contestant 20 minutes, using whatever instruments they please, up to and including hamsters on a wheel.

For those still freaked by laptop-only gigs, BotK offers a little more eye-candy, with visuals and stage shows planned by contestants such as Ainu, Glomm, ML, Monkey+1, Radium-Z, Rrine, and Suff-X--who navigate the realms of heavily danceable, electro to Tetris-mashing IDM. Winner takes $300. Says Bllix, "I believe this event will offer the audience a lot more of a 'show' than the laptop battles... [it's] nothing but positive for both artist and audience. The BotK is meant to promote our local musicians and their affiliations, as well as hopefully introduce more Portlanders to the joy of independent electronic music." These peeps are the top of the pops, so don't miss out.