by Aaron Miles

Portland All-Area Laptop Battle

Wed Dec 17

Holocene

Some artists have shows or recitals with tea and biscuits, but real innovators battle. Competition is inherent in subcultural art scenes and when there's a battle, it brings healthy competition into the open and creates progress by forcing people to improve their game. Now the battle is going where no battle has gone before--the freaky, culture-defying world of digital music, delivered by laptop.

The first ever Portland all-area laptop battle will include 16 accomplished artists and upstarts, coming from backgrounds of techno and experimental (Glomm, Strategy, Brian Foote), indie/singer-songwriters ([[[VVRSSNN]]] and Y.A.C.H.T., hiphop, and other derivations. They will put their best mouse-finger forward and win prizes in multiple categories. An overall champion--who will parade around the venue, pumping their Power Book high, and crunching the remains of competitors' fried circuitry under their sneakers--will get glory, cash, and software.

Brian Foote, longtime electronic musician and member of Nudge, thinks the battle "will definitely be a challenge" for contestants, who will be limited to short segments and won't be able to use external controller devices.

"It will be exciting to see what people bring to the table to battle with, and will show an interesting cross-section of what people are doing," Foote said, "but it will be very hard to judge."

According to Holocene booker/battle coordinator Scott McLean, the judging will, given the diversity of styles and personalities, have to be a delicate balance between subjective and objective viewpoints, and audience reaction. To assist, two video projectors will show the gladiators' onscreen action, frenzied mouse work, and body rocking. Judges--who include the Seattle laptop battle champion Kris Moon, local electronic impresarios E*Rock and David Chandler (aka DJ Brokenwindow/Solenoid), Steven Cantor from OPB, and Mercury Music Editrix Julianne Shepherd--will not only have to rate how much ass the contestant kicked, but must also consider factors such as improvisation, originality, and audience reaction--presumably in the form of random making out, dancing, and head implosions.