Jon Campbell, a super nice bearded guy who we met at the Abigail Washburn/Bela Fleck gig in November, writes a column called “Foreign Devil” for the American music website PopMatters. A couple of weeks ago, he posted a story about Top Floor Circus (顶楼马戏团), a folk-cum-punk band from Shanghai. “The band was from Shanghai, for goodness’ sake,” Campbell writes, “and everyone in Beijing knows that good rock bands come from anywhere but Shanghai.” Yes, Campbell is based in Beijing, where this gig took place.
Yet there was something about Top Floor Circus that made Campbell smile. This was not due to Top Floor Circus’ musicianship — “[t]his music wasn’t very nice to listen to,” Campbell admits — but rather their spirit and ironic sense of humor:
Top Floor Circus is a rarity not just for Shanghai, but for a rock scene mired in mediocrity and uninspired derivativeness. Top Floor Circus’ Tom Waits-inspired off-kilter take on folk music brought a level of critical acclaim and street cred that enabled it to win over a Beijing audience not usually interested in anything from Shanghai. What’s more, they seem to revel in their Shanghaineseness, which should, in theory, push Beijingers further away. But local musos were aflutter in the weeks leading up to the show, mainly because of Top Floor Circus’ recent decision to veer away from quirky folk music: Three albums into its successful run, Top Floor Circus decided to go punk. And not just regular punk, but a punk influenced by notorious bad-boy GG Allin. So now alt-folk was to meet gutter punk.
You can read the whole story here. Our events calendar shows no current Top Floor Circus gigs in our area.
Photos from Top Floor Circus’ Christmas Eve show in Shanghai (RockInChina.com)
Another take on Top Floor Circus from Beijing (That’s Beijing)
A prreview of Top Floor Circus’ Christmas Eve gig at DDM Warehouse (Shanghai Daily)