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Putting on—and witnessing, for that matter—a Laptop Battle is exhausting. Each year since 2003, though, Laptop Battle cofounder Kris Moon (Fourthcity's Zach Huntting helped him start it) has wrangled 16 producers to compete for electronic-music supremacy in a hothouse environment of mouse-to-mouse, three-minute bursts of beatcentric inspiration.
Even though he's now living in Missoula, Montana, Moon received enough interest from Seattle's electronic-music community to return to the 206's PowerBook-intensive fray. He enlisted Jerry Abstract to design the website and flyers, Scott Tracer to do live visuals, Alejandro "Ali" Gutierrez to MC; corralled the contestants; and decided to bust out a DJ set of his own on the night (you can hear Moon's fantastic selector skills on his weekly Moonbass podcast at www .krismoon.com).
Moon is "really excited about the lineup and glad that at least one contestant is going to make it from both Portland [Graintable] and Vancouver [Vincent Parker]. I've got mad respect for anyone who travels a couple hours just to get their first three minutes in, especially in Seattle, where the contenders are seasoned veterans."
Data Breaker favorites like the Naturebot (beautiful, psychedelic IDM), WD4D (left-field hiphop), Beetseeka (experimental electro), and PotatoFinger (post–d 'n' b subversion) will joust against producers such as KFO, Dead Noise, the Googly, Sublo, and others.
"We wanted to assure the quality and growth of the event and spent some time cherry-picking artists," says Andrew Luck of Splatinum, who describes himself as Moon's "man on the streets" for the battle. "There's a stronger dubstep and d 'n' b presence in the battle this year, something I've personally felt [has] been missing in past battles. [Up to now, it's] been really techno- and IDM-oriented."
Discussing what Splatinum plan to bring to the battle for their showcase set, Luck asserts, "We're gonna set the bar high with a few new tricks up our pantlegs. We've been brewing a little extra-special crowd interaction for the event."
Sage vet Moon offers some advice to the participants. "I think the key to winning the Laptop Battle is strategy. There's no guaranteed way to win, especially with the great judges we've got. But just having a game plan is essential. I think one of the biggest hurdles is that first set. You really have to come out swinging, because it's do or die."
Somewhat taken aback by the Laptop Battle's continued popularity, Moon gushes, "People are asking me about the battle in Missoula! There's been more Laptop Battles in Seattle than anywhere else in the world, and the reason for that is the incredible support the electronic community has always provided."
Laptop Battle: Kris Moon, Splatinum, and 16 contestants battle it out Fri Dec 18, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $10, 21+; www.laptopbattle.com.