Thousands of people packed the sold-out Smoothie King Center on Monday night to hear Radiohead play, but after their two-hour set, they did what any music-savvy visitor to New Orleans did: swung by Oak Street to catch an act at the Maple Leaf, specifically George Porter Jr.
People in the audience said that the Radiohead members attended the show with members of Arcade Fire and Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall, who has collaborated with Arcade Fire. The internationally known musicians kept a relatively low profile in Porter’s audience, however, though Porter slyly noted from the stage that he had guests from out of town.
“Maple Leaf regulars were surprised to realize that they were sharing the dance floor with members of Radiohead, Arcade Fire, and Preservation Hall — all who seemed pleasantly surprised to be able to actually enjoy themselves off-stage as members of an audience for a change,” said Michelle B. Perez, WTUL’s DJ Serpentina.
“While there was certainly a little excited buzz about it (Porter, himself, acknowledged his appreciation for a certain “traveling band” who was amongst us in the crowd) and hopes were high for an impromptu collaboration, it was obvious that people were just happy to be there together for the night and were intentionally going out of their way (even stepping aside to let band members take photos of the show) to ensure everyone was having a genuinely good time,” Perez continued. “It was pretty surreal to see legends from different genres and generations coming to pay homage to legends — especially knowing that Radiohead and other audience members were coming from such a massive event to then share a small, sacred space that has famously hosted many local artists who’ve helped forge a path in the musical landscape for them. It was definitely a pilgrimage of sorts and I think everyone who was there realized it and relished the magic of the moment in classic New Orleans fashion!”
Porter spilled the beans publicly when he posted a photo from their visit to his show the next day.
“I just wanted to give a big thank you to the guys from Radiohead and Arcade Fire who came to see The Porter Trio at the Maple Leaf Bar last night,” the musician wrote. “Colin and I had a great chat after the show. Stay funky my friends!”
The Maple Leaf Bar also made an understated reference to an unusual evening the following morning. “Last night was one for the books! Let’s keep the party going!” the bar posted on social media with its calendar for the rest of the week.
And, after Porter shared news of the event with his fans, the Maple Leaf reflected on it in more detail.
“Yep, everyone loves George Porter Jr. There’s nothing better than seeing incredible musicians in the audience watching our local legends,” the Maple Leaf wrote. “It was definitely an honor to host Radiohead Monday night. We live charmed lives here… sometimes it’s hard to tell real life from Make Believe at the Maple Leaf…”