upchuck’s “shakin” reminds us what punk can — and should — be

March 16, 2020
90 Picks

As we all sit here in a state of existential panic (lemmetellyou, the middle of a global pulmonary pandemic is a bad time for your chronic lung issues to be acting up ha ha ha this is fun), Upchuck is here to whisk us away to a simpler time of watching VHS skate videos in your friend’s wood-paneled basement in between bouts of Mortal Kombat. The video for their latest single “SHAKIN” is a technicolor wonderland of rapid cut glitched-out visuals, VHS artifacts, protest footage, and skate clips. The stripped-down, no-fucks-given vibe of both song and video are a visceral reminder of what punk can—and should—be.


Recent protest footage keeps it grounded in the here and now; though the song is a response to our very current woes, it’s warning that “And there’s a man in every land\ that has a plan to try and overrun” is a timeless rebuke to systemic violence. Singer Kaila Thompson’s voice cuts through the distortion and noise like a machete. The band’s frenetic and kinetic playing perfectly traces the line of controlled chaos; like—well, literally everything right now—the song feels like it could all come apart at any moment. That over half of the runtime is taken up by a kiss-off to Trump that doubles as a lesson in West African insults only further’s my fervent desire that it be part of a full skate comp. Someone with a VHS camcorder: in our time of crisis and uncertainty, the world needs you right now. Make this happen.

“SHAKIN” comes from the Atlanta band’s excellent self-titled EP. Peep it on Bandcamp, and keep up with the band on Instagram @_upchuck_.