Laptop musicians aren't known for their tenacious competitive streaks--unless it's to upgrade their PowerBooks or dig for used vinyl to find cool samples. But put these usually congenial tech nerds in a head-to-head battle for three minutes, and the juices flow as heavily as any football player's on Super Sunday.

You can witness production geeks getting freaky this Friday, as 24 of Seattle and Portland's top electronicists flaunt their wickedest sounds in a merciless series of elimination rounds. The winner earns $200, a copy of Native Instruments' Reaktor software, and the respect of hundreds of patrons and fellow competitors.

The third laptop competition organized by Seattle's Fourthcity collective, this event follows the second battle's overwhelming artistic and financial success (it sold out Chop Suey on September 16). Fourthcity members Zach Huntting (AKA Zapan) and Kris Moon believe this one--which pits Seattle versus Portland laptoppers--will match the last for sonic thrills and cramped dancing space.

"If anything, there's a lot more enthusiasm for it this time around," says Moon, who won the second tussle. "There are a lot more people who've signed up and want to be alternates and notified about the next one. The website [] has definitely pumped things up."

Moon, Zapan, and nearly everyone who attended Laptop Battle II were shocked by the crowd. "We thought it was going to be a male-dominated, chin-scratching party, and it wasn't," says Moon. "There were a lot of people there none of us had ever seen before."

For Laptop Battle III, Seattle will enter 17 contestants, including Moon, Zapan, Nordic Soul, Misha, and Randolph Galuccicoochi (AKA Plastiq Phantom). Seven contestants will drive up from Portland, including Deceptikon and Glomm, the first- and third-place finishers in PDX's December battle. What did the selection process involve?

"Most of the Portland contestants played the battle there," says Moon. "We didn't go through demos; if you feel like you're ready to battle, bring it on. Drop us a line and we'll put you on the list."

What's the goal for this event? "Monetarily, we're trying to fund the Fourthcity compilation [due out this spring]," says Zapan. "Artistically, just to do it bigger and better and cooler than we did last time."

Has the battle format caught on elsewhere?

"We're hoping it does," says Moon. "We wanna make the hub for activity of that sort in the nation. We'd like to have a national battle in September during the Decibel Festival [happening September 23-26 in Seattle]. It would be good synergy. All the heads in town for the festival and us throwing a laptop battle at the same time would be a really positive thing. Hopefully with the festival, there'll be more press and A&R reps in town, and we'll take it to the next level."

Is this battle gonna be a bunch of white guys again? (There was one female battler in the last one.)

"Portland's Waterdog and Bllix and Seattle's Kinoko and Misha are female," says Moon. "Tom Chi's Asian. Making music on a laptop is pretty geeky, and it usually ends up being a lot of pasty-faced white guys doing it. I've put on five or six pounds because I've just been sitting in front of my computer for the last two weeks working on shit." DAVE SEGAL

Fri Jan 23 at Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $10. More info at and

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