When Pop And Punk Collide

This Valentine’s Day brought me to YuYinTang, a quaint dive bar located at 1731 Kaixuan Road and Yan’an Road, to listen to the Beijing-based band Recycle. Recycle, composed of vocalist/bassist Wang Yan, vocalist/guitarist Guo Feng, drummer Liu Zhong and vocalist/guitarist Zhao Lijie, is an example of what can happen when you mix musical genres. First of all, they are a punk band that advocates peace, love, equality, animal rights and, as their name suggests, environmental awareness. These values are somewhat inconsistent with the early years of punk that were developed in the 1960s when the pioneers of the genre—The Fugs and The Stooges—set the punk precedent of anti-social, anti-establishment behavior that has come to define punk. Recycle does distance themselves somewhat from this by labeling their sound as ‘pop-punk’ and the title of their first album in April 2006 on HotPot Music, Being Young Means Being Advocates, Not Rascals, seems an answer to their strange mixture of punk influence and social concern. Despite their tattoos, Recycle is a band of goody-goodies.

The Valentine’s Day show at YuYinTang began with local band Pink Berry at 9 p.m.
and the small floor space of the bar was filled when Recycle took the stage afterward. The current lineup of Recycle was solidified in 2003 and this solidity was illustrated in their stage presence which was smooth and confident. The punk aspect of Recycle’s music is apparent in the Liu Zhong’s drumming, which is strong, technical and relentlessly face-paced. The vocals and melodies on the other hand are undeniably pop. Wang Yan’s voice is catchy and harmonizes wonderfully with his fellow band members. On the down-side, their songs are rather elementary consisting of simple verse/chorus and, despite having two guitarists, they only once went into a solo and it lacked any real pizzazz. The band ended with a cover of Bob Marley’s “One Love” to the delight of the audience who clapped their hands above their heads in the direction of Guo Feng. But—can you imagine Sid Vicious doing reggae covers?

When I asked the band about Valentine’s Day, Guo Feng answered, “We hug each other, we kiss each other, we fuck each other.” Could this be the motto of pop-punk? The show at YuYinTang was the second of 17 in Recycle’s current tour that began in Nanjing and will take them to a number of cities in China including Hong Kong. For more information visit their myspace or website.

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