Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The 2007 Atlanta Laptop Battle Championship is on @ Lenny’s!

It’s that time of year once again when Atlanta’s finest amateur computer music heads leave the safety of their bedrooms to compete in a battle of wits, skill and mouseplay at the Atlanta Laptop Battle III final competition.

Eight of city’s finest laptop virtuosos who have thus far made it through two semi-final competitions earlier this year are now going head-to-head for the grand prize: over $1,000 in software and a ticket to Seattle to compete in the National Laptop Battle Championship this December.

The aliases for this year’s eight finalists include: Andrew Provine, Charlie P. (both of whom perform together in the band Random Rabbit), pH., Josh Clayton (DJ for WREK/91.1FM’s “The Mobius” show), Dr, Maximilian Reinhart, El Hadron, Citizen Green and Poodleface. These bold souls will converge upon Lenny's to do battle for the crown of Atlanta’s 2007 Laptop champion.

The winner will be crowned by a panel of three judges, whom this year's ATL Laptop Battle organizer and last year’s winner Matt “Threv” Simpson describes as thus:

Jason Freeman ( - Jason Freeman's works break down conventional barriers between composers, performers and listeners, using cutting-edge technology and unconventional notation to turn audiences and musicians into compositional collaborators. Freeman received his B.A. in music from Yale University and his M.A. and D.M.A. in composition from Columbia University. He recently joined the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is an assistant professor in the music department.

Randy Garcia ( - Founder of Nophi Recordings & transplant from the hell of Florida, Randy calls Reynoldstown home nowadays. With countless electronic & rock albums under his belt, Mr. R_Garcia is no stranger to the foibles, peaks and valleys of laptop recording & performance.

Alex Hofelich - One of my closest friends & the catalyst behind Skinny Puppy Education Day, Alex has a discerning taste as a music *fan*.

All three judges will focus on audience response, laptop interaction and sound quality, and originality. Each contestant faces off in a double-elimination tournament using only a laptop and one external MIDI controller, and three minutes to do their best while keeping their eyes on the prize.

For more information go to

The Laptop Battle Championship happens at Lenny's on Thursday, Oct. 18. Competition starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. Battle will be followed by a performance from R_Garcia.

Jay Reatard at Lenny’s. Atlanta, GA. Monday, Oct. 15, 2007.

Good punk rock is hard to come by these days. Sure, there is no shortage of sloppy twenty something’s decked-out in ankle-tight jeans and studded belts, going through the motions of three chords and a rage of ramped-up emotions. But in the year 2007 the uniform and the sound are as predictable as reggae music. This is precisely what made Jay Reatard’s
show at Lenny’s on Monday, Oct. 15 rise so far above the trappings of pedestrian punk showmanship. The secret: Good songwriting and a no-bullshit stage presence that’s followed through by the sheer force of a freight train.

Jay covers all of the bases with his approach, and the element of surprise is not to be underestimated. The sound guy barely had time to fade the house music out before Reatard and his freshly assembled crew of hirsute players flipped the switch and became locked in the throes of cathartic, head banging fury.

The show started seemingly without warning. One minute the band was lounging on-stage, making sure everything was where it was supposed to be, plugged-in and working properly. The next minute, puffy Caucasian afros were shaking violently.
As catty as it sounds, the band’s appearance plays a significant role in terms of the show’s overall impact. The group that Reatard has assembled for this tour does not look like the kind of dudes who would churn-out this variety of fast, angular and artsy punk rock. The baggy denim and flannel shirts jive more with the image one gets when envisioning the opening band for a Soundgarden gig circa ’93.

Jay Reatard’s songs are built around a kind of speedy melancholy that taps into a lineage of dark pop and unapologetically punk rock tones. One could compile a list of sounds, and musical phrases that touch on everything from Wire’s “12XU” to the Ramones’ “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” to the Buzzcock’s “What Do I Get.” But Reatard breaks the mold by injecting such a strong sense of personality and real-time experience into the music that his songs transcend simple pop and punk wallpaper. He is a Songwriter with a capital “S” who knows the power of subtlety and impressionism in his storytelling. And the true impact comes with the delivery of each song.

As the band raged through what was maybe a half-an-hour set, there was not a moment of silence between songs. Each number bled into the next in a wall of noise that smeared over the pop elements of each song with just the right amount of noise to keep the ears and the brain racing to stay locked-on to the melodies. The hooks were strong, heart-wrenching and much dirtier than the already fuzzed-out qualities that take shape on Reatard’s ’06 full-length, Blood Visions (In the Red). The record, which was recorded partially by Carbonas’ drummer/producer Dave Rahn, is strong and fast-paced, and sharply personifies of the kind of energy and character that sets Jay Reatard apart. But live the group exudes a sense of spontaneity that transcends fashion and form, and rekindles the energy of great and truly timeless punk rock.

By Chad Radford