Blow by Blow

John Cage & Phillip Glass vs. Music As We Know It

Cage works tirelessly to remove any musical notes from his instrument.

[From a New Yorker magazine review.]

Fans of musique concrete, minimalism and feeling superior were treated to a long-awaited reunion of these longtime co-conspirators.

The two showed that they haven’t lost a step over the years as they delighted fans and confused roadies during their opening pieces Soundcheck #1 and Soundcheck #2 (Slight Return).

During the course of the 2-hour+ concert, attendees were treated to various improvisational pieces. Untitled #4: The Night Clerk saw Glass take on the personas of an Elvis impersonator, a foreign dignitary and other roles suggested by audience members while Cage played a harried hotel clerk that could only speak in three-word sentences.

Another improv piece, Blueprint for Entropy, featured Cage leaving the stage to return a few personal calls while Glass visited with his stage manager in the vacant (of course!) orchestra pit.

Cage and Glass closed out the night with a pair of encores. The first was an 11-minute sheet metal and glockenspiel┬ácover of Aerosmith’s shitty classic Love in an Elevator.

They followed this unexpected moment with a piece the entire crowd had waited for all night: 4’33”.

As Cage and Glass disinterestedly left the stage, a 12-foot tall LED clock lowered slowly from the rafters, counting back from 4:33. Thunderous applause soon gave way to rhythmic clapping as the audience punctuated each passing second. The crowd was on their feet as the final 10 seconds counted down, shouting each sequential number like overenthusiastic, tuxedoed NASA technicians.


Glass plots his next move, while perfecting his latest affectation.