At nine o’clock on a recent Monday morning, Lu Chen, the slender and polite lead singer of Top Floor Circus, the first rock band to sing in Shanghainese—and a man whose transformative stage persona sees him swearing, stripping nearly naked, and engaging in exaggerated comedic role-playing—met me in a bookstore at 50 Moganshan Road, in what’s become, in the nearly twenty years he’s lived in the neighborhood, the hippest contemporary art district in Shanghai. He had just returned to Shanghai the previous night after giving a concert in Beijing. Lu, who formed the band with his college buddy Mei’er more than eleven years ago, has gone from being a rocker known for popularizing Shanghai in a country whose official culture promotes national unity over local individuality, to being respected by clutches of fans across the country who adore his razor-sharp wit and multimedia showmanship at nearly fifty live shows a year.

Read more: chinafile.com/top-floor-circus

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