To say the least, things in the music world change fast. Music fans were just getting used to records when eight-tracks came out, same thing with tapes, and probably sooner than later CDs will become obsolete. This idea also applies to the music being played on these mediums. And over the weekend, Chop Suey witnessed the next evolution of music.
The event, Fourth City Studios' third annual Laptop Battle, had some of Seattle's and Portland's best laptop composers ready to either please or violate the crowd's eardrums with their original beats and sounds. In the smoked-filled "green" room the night of the show, Fourth City artist and laptop contestant Zach Huntting (battling as Zapan) discussed his thoughts about the battle.
" It's a chance for the artist to showcase what they've been working on at home in front of an audience," Huntting said.
The battle was a single-elimination-style competition in which each contestant got three minutes to do whatever he wanted with his laptop, all while a panel of judges and the audience decided who remained and who went. But as Huntting put it, "He couldn't really care if he loses or wins."
Twenty-four contestants competed, with seven of those representing Portland. Prizes ranged from gift certificates to Zion's Gate records to software for the contestants' computers. Kris Moon, who represents Seattle, walked away with his second Laptop Battle win, receiving $200 and an impressive software package valued at about $300.
The show was really eclectic and the Asian-themed Chop Suey served as the perfect venue. Each laptop artist had his or her own unique sound, and it was obvious that the presentation was directed at the audience members, who loved every minute of it, cheering each time the emcee asked them to decide which of two performers' sets they liked best. The visual aspect was important as images were projected behind the stage, seeming to perfectly complement whatever sounds the laptopers were making.
Huntting described the difference between a vinyl DJ and a laptop composer.
"When I see a laptop performance I expect it to be all original music, where as with a vinyl DJ, everything is samples or other people's music."
He also said he goes to lengths to create his musical compilations, doing such random things as going to Guitar Center with his mini-disk-recorder demo-ing equipment and recording anything that sounds cool, then adding it to his vast list of sound bytes.
The bad news is the laptop battle is over; the good news is the people in Fourth City do their thing every Monday night at the Deep Down Lounge, so you don't have to feel bad about missing a really cool musical event. Also, one of the main reasons for the event was to fund a compilation album featuring Fourth City's best, along with some emcees to complete the project, according to Huntting.
When asked what was next for him and Fourth City, Huntting, who also took an impressive second place in the event, replied, "Our next plan is to take over the world."
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