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"It's definitely the common thread," Donovan says. "It ties everyone together. We have a little bit of everything [on display]. Hardcore changes and the definition is so broad anymore. There's new sub-genres of it, and everybody has a place within it, but it's all the same kids listening to variations of the music. We'll have Sick of It All [which formed in New York City in 1986] on there, which is one of the bands that paved the way for a lot of hardcore bands, and you have bands like Vinnie Caruana of I Am the Avalanche and The Movielife, who's someone who grew up listening to Sick of It All. It's lighter, it's poppier, but everybody [shares the] mentality and eagerness to see those shows."
There's a decidedly non-trendy bent to the festival's lineup. Though bands like Fucked Up and Ceremony have broken to more indie-centric audiences (thanks to a prominent label, Matador, which has roots in the DIY/hardcore scene), hardcore remains an underground force.
"We could do a metalcore festival and have 800 kids show up without us having to break a sweat, because that's what's popular, but there's also a huge community who loves this music, and even though it's harder to sell the tickets, there should still be something for them to go to. Parkway Drive and Dance Gavin Dance come through three times a year, and there's a place for those kids, there's great shows, but you don't really see, at least here in Arizona, a place where Sick of It All is headlining."
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With fans as vocal with their opinions as the bands they triumph, it gets to be a lot to handle. "There's definitely times where you're like, 'What the heck is going on?' This kid's calling us names because we won't put Touche Amore on, but they're playing the Marquee [next month]. It doesn't make any sense."
But it's genuine care that fuels the constant commentary, passionate interest in preserving and fighting for a thriving community, and that beats sitting around wondering if the last track on that Bon Iver record is supposed to be ironic, right?