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That's one of the reasons that a consortium of the scene's veterans started the streetwear company 4HATE0. Besides being an entrepreneurial venture, they're trying to unite the scene through a clothing line that proclaims pride in its geographic roots, while retaining the thuggish, testosterone-fueled aesthetic associated with hardcore. The creators also say they want to shepherd younger hardcore fans along, to teach them the art of self-policing and limit violence.
Though the 4HATE0 gear has sold well in its brief history, it hasn't been without controversy. There was talk of a ban on crew gear by the biggest hardcore promoter in the Valley; 4HATE0, because of its similarities to the shirts worn by the actual crews (and the unfortunate decision by the proprietors to screen-print "CREW" on the backs of their own shirts), ended up in the middle of the controversy, asserting the right of the fans who fuel the scene to wear whatever tee shirts they choose.
Will Anderson of AMJ Concerts and Lucky Man Concerts (the promoters of the Madball show and many other hardcore shows in the Valley) was the promoter who considered banning the crew gear, but in the end decided not to do so, after a post he made on Azpunk.com in July caused a huge stir. "It's more of a problem than it's worth," Anderson tells me a couple of days after the Madball show. "You hear all this stuff about [crew violence] in other states and scenes, but it's not our scene. They shouldn't be punished for what those other people are doing."
Local DIY hardcore promoter Tyler King and several of his friends had a flash of inspiration a few months back. They pooled their resources and launched a streetwear company called "4HATE0," a play on the area code and an assertion of pride for their East Valley locale. Much like New York's Pitchfork clothing brand and, locally, the Team Loco gear sold by a group of board and bike enthusiasts, 4HATE0 gear can now be purchased by anyone online and, soon, in stores.
King, along with Mike Stevenson, "Boston Eric" Matthews, Derek Burford, and a handful of other friends as investors, thought they'd put a positive spin on the local scene by throwing out a catchphrase that locals could identify with. Becoming entrepreneurs in the process didn't sound so bad either.
When King and Matthews moved out here eight years ago, the hardcore scene was considerably different from those in their hometowns -- New York City and Boston, respectively.
King (who resembles the Al Swearengen character on HBO's Deadwood) was deeply involved in the New York hardcore scene in the early '90s, throwing shows that underage kids from the tri-state area would drive hours to see. He worked at the infamous CBGB for a long time, booking the venue's all-ages hardcore matinee shows for five years, as well as throwing shows at other venues.
When he moved to the Valley, he found his entertainment options sparse.
"A lot of my friends' bands weren't coming through here," says King, who's now in his thirties, while we're talking hardcore in the living room of Stevenson's Tempe apartment. "I started doing shows from time to time that the bigger punk and hardcore companies were passing on because they weren't familiar with the bands. I'm from New York, I wanted to see these bands, and nobody else was booking them, so I did."
Matthews adds, "When me and Tyler came out here, and a few others, they weren't hardcore dancing. We came out here, we were the ones doing the hardcore dancing. We made it safe; now all the other kids are growing up and they're wanting to actually hurt people. We didn't know any better when we came here -- that's the way we did it back East, that's the style, that's what we did."
"They couldn't differentiate the fact it was dancing from the fact it looked like a fight," King continues. "The people I bump into the hardest when I still jump in -- I roughhouse with my buddies. It's our energy release, it's our high-five. It's guy-orientated."
Tyler King and I met for the first time last year, when I tried to find out what happened about the middle-aged man who got the shit kicked out of him at one of King's shows at the Mason Jar. I'd seen pictures of the man's face with his eye popping out of his head posted on AZPunk.com, and I wanted to write about the incident.
I hit a silent brick wall. Even King wouldn't talk.
No one would talk about the situation on the record back then. Now that a considerable amount of time has passed, King agreed to explain the situation at the show -- which featured Six Feet Under, the Red Chord, and On Broken Wings -- from his perspective.
"Basically there were kids dancing in the style of hardcore dancing, going a little off. An older gentleman, mid-forties/early fifties, bigger guy, got beat up by more than one guy. I saw the tail end and dragged the guy out.