Andrew W.K. Performs John Cage at Disney Concert Hall

WHAT: Andrew W.K. live appearance at Fluxus: Fluxconcert.

WHEN: Saturday, November 17th, 2018 at 5:00pm.

WHERE: Walt Disney Concert Hall located at 111 S Grand Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Andrew appeared as part of a special guest vocal ensemble, performing John Cage’s composition, “Apartment House 1776”. Andrew also presented Yoko Ono’s “Laundry Performance” earlier in the evening.

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“Total Freedom”
Andrew W.K.’s Thoughts on John Cage

When I was 11 years old, my dad called me into the family room to watch something on TV. He said it was a documentary about an important musician. The important musician turned out to be John Cage, and the documentary was the PBS American Master’s episode, “I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It”.

I remember sitting transfixed for the duration of the program. At times, my dad chimed in to explain bits, such as, “yes, Andrew – he actually composed a piece where the musicians don’t play their instruments.”

The memories that stick out most, all the years later, are the scenes of Cage and the treated piano (with so many verboten objects added to its strings), the hypnotic dance moves of Merce Cunningham (the first modern dance performance I’d ever seen), and most of all, the footage of Cage in the forest, where he considered the sonic viability of different mushrooms.

The documentary was a turning point for me. It was one of my earliest encounters with total artistic freedom, and witnessing someone who had devoted themselves to mastering the boundless and delirious terrain of unrestricted creative possibility.

As a piano student in my sixth year of serious lessons, I had never fully considered that you could do whatever you wanted at the piano, and it could still count as music. It had never occurred to me that you could do nothing at the piano, and it could be even more intense than music.

Many years later, I performed Cage’s 4’33”, on tour with the Calder String Quartet. No matter the room, or the audience, and despite the inclusion of my own loud, high-energy rock music in the program, it was always 4’33” that stole the show – by far the most riveting part of the night, every night. And it did all the heavy lifting on its own. It’s pure compositional elegance. I get sweaty palms and butterflies just thinking about it.

John Cage not only liberated music from the confinements of theory, he liberated music from the traditions of sound itself. He didn’t destroy music, he destroyed the illusions that kept us from realizing everything is musical. That life is music – the two are synonymous.

John Cage described music as an “affirmation of life”. For me, his legacy is an impassioned celebration of that very affirmation. His work transcends both music and the musician. In moments of complete transcendence, we’re given the chance to not only be freed from our daily concerns and calamities, but also freed from ourselves and our limitations. It’s only then that we can come face to face with the Truth – and that’s the ultimate party.

– Andrew W.K.