This is the first installment of Chris Stamm's new punk column, Upper Extremities. He'll be here every week. His logo was illustrated by the great Adam Krueger. -Ed.

I knew very little about the Bi-Marks before I saw them destroy Seattle's The Morgue last Sunday.
Life During Wartime

What I did know: the thirteen songs comprising the Bi-Marks' scabrous demo scratched an ever-present itch for the kind of punk rock that got me off when I was a teenager who couldn't skate but wished he could; who didn't drink but dreamed about getting tossed; who wanted to look cool in tight, torn jeans but had to settle for looking dirty in hemmed Dickies.

Call it aspirational music. Goddammit-I-need-a-mohawk-now music. I'm-gonna-chew-holes-in-my-shirts music. The kind of music that can flip a kid's lid for good, snotty and aggrieved shit designed to hook aspiring drop-outs on the fast and fucked stuff.

The Bi-Marks' demo

One could chop the Bi-Marks' demo into a handful of five-minute chunks and hide them on classic comps from the '80s and no one would notice. Put one next to Gang Green on This is Boston, Not L.A. and another after Agression on Someone Got Their Head Kicked In and another before Crucifix on Not So Quiet on the Western Front and another up your ass because the Bi-Marks probably don't like you very much (if the anthemic "Fuck My Generation" is to be believed, which I do believe it is).

Which is all to say that I was excited to see Portland's young guttersnipes in Seattle on the last day of the Hunting Parties festival, a weekend-long shindig spotlighting crust, hardcore, powerviolence and pretty much every other blackened branch of punk on which people who sport Nausea patches and bring their unneutered dogs to loud rock shows like to perch with some swill hidden in a paper bag.

Image: The Bi-Marks' MySpace page.

Slotted between two terribly generic Seattle crust bands that politeness prevents me from calling out by name, the Bi-Marks took their allotted twenty minutes and chewed it into green gristle before spitting it back out to loudly die at our feet. Turns out the demo was a mere hint of the ferocity these boys are capable of summoning. Most of that live energy courses through the form of singer Evan Johnson, a dervish with dagger eyes who seemed bent on breaking an arm with hard dives to the Morgue's concrete floor. Johnson's unhinged ballet (think Iggy, think H.R.) promised an impending collapse, but it was all grand theater—the band was tight, fast and practiced and Johnson's howls and screeches and exhortations found every sweet spot. I wanted to pump my fist, but I was afraid Johnson would see my arm and gnaw it off.

This, I mused, is what made me fall in love with punk in the first place. (Musing, by the way, is rather difficult and necessarily brief in a humid and stinky space like the Morgue, so that's about as far as my musing took me at the time.) As Johnson picked himself up off the floor and the rest of the Bi-Marks left the stage, I wanted to run (drive my SUV) home right away and give myself a misshapen mohawk, but I don't want to be that guy, so I'm gonna be this guy who lets the Bi-Marks be young and proudly punk enough for the both of us. Trust, though, that I'm still punk where it counts—in my iTunes.