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Kicking Cans Is "Less Expensive Than Therapy"

There’s a new band on campus. Well, it seems like there are a lot of new bands on campus, but this one is called Kicking Cans. 

Kicking Cans features Grace Fenwick on lead guitar, Anya Warrier on vocals, Daniel Staas on keyboard and rhythm guitar, Lucy Collins on bass, Dustin Garza on drums, and Dimitri Rosenthal on sax, backup guitar, and backup vocals. The band started with Warrier and Fenwick. Warrier was previously a member of The Ordeal, another band at Georgetown, before she and Fenwick decided to form a group of their own.

They went about searching for the rest of the band one by one. Collins is Fenwick’s roommate, and Staas is Collins’ cousin. “We’re cousins and they’re roommates, it’s a family ordeal,” said Staas. The band then searched high and low for a drummer, sending out emails asking for auditions to students who had taken a Rock History class with Fenwick in the fall, and ended up finding both Garza and Rosenthal. 

Kicking Cans’ large size allows each member to experiment with new roles, offering something new on each track. “We put Dustin on drums but Dimitri was too good to let go,” Fenwick said. Rosenthal does a little bit of everything: from playing backup guitar on some songs, to singing in others, to even practicing a saxophone solo for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's “Murder on the Dancefloor.” Staas also plays a variety of parts, alternating between guitar and keyboard during practice and shows.  

“Because there are so many of us there is a lot of creative vision, we all have slightly different music tastes, so we want to have a fusion of a lot of different genres,” Staas said, “Dustin and I have more of a classical background, Anya is very comfortable with live performance from her time with The Ordeal, so I think it will be a very interesting blend of musical dogmas.” The band can best be described as indie rock, but their repertoire spans across a large amount of genres and time periods. The earliest material I heard them play were songs by King Harvest and The Smiths. They also played a good amount of 90s alt rock such as The Cure and The Cranberries, as well as modern artists like Clairo, Declan McKenna, and Wallows. While the band has not made any original music yet, Rosenthal and Garza have both written solo music before and plan on writing music for the band.

“My own music has been mainly acoustic,” Rosenthal told me, “but I imagine [our future composition]... would be a group effort with everyone contributing their own styles. I’m definitely bringing some of my own songs that we can build on.”

I was talking to the band as they rehearsed for their first-ever gig: a benefit concert played on February 24th at Village C Theater for Pippin, the upcoming musical co-production between Mask & Bauble and Nomadic Theater. The band showed no first-show anxiety; everyone was excited to perform together. Staas described the upcoming show as a good “trial run,” with Fenwick adding that it wasn’t going to be a “scary first gig, as we know there will be people there, and there’s a number of other groups performing.” Fenwick was also coordinating the group’s on-stage look, reminding everyone that “they have to send a picture of what they are gonna wear in the groupchat.” The band’s attire for the benefit concert was not particularly cohesive: everyone was dressed fairly casually, in t-shirts and jeans. Staas was probably the most dressed up, wearing a light purple open button down shirt. So maybe the group chat coordination never matriculated. 

Image Credit: Brigid O'Connor

The band rehearsed the two songs they were going to play at the benefit concert: “Bags” by Clairo and “Brazil” by Declan McKenna. They also treated me to impromptu performances of Sublime’s “Santeria” and The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” 

“Johnny Marr from The Smiths is a personal inspiration of mine,” said Staas, which resulted in a few groans from his fellow bandmates. Warrier had a more refined answer to the same question.

“Dustin is our inspiration,” she said, referring to Garza, “we all just want to be like Dustin.” 

I arrived at Village C Theater early on the night of the gig to spend some time with the band while they did their sound checks and prepared for the show. Besides Kicking Cans, the event was to include solo performances from the musical as well as a number of performances from some of Georgetown's student acapella groups. Unfortunately, the event had the band billed by Kicking Cans’ old name, Attention Deficit, but I was assured that there was no confusion about the group’s current name. “We are Kicking Cans,” Collins insisted, “They asked for our name before we came up with a name.”

“We started with The Bucket Kickers but we thought that that was too morbid so we changed it to Kicking Cans,” Fenwick added. 

“It also has some symbolism,” Rosenthal said, “like we’re kicking cans down the road.”

“Kicking the capitalism can,” Garza chimed in. The rest of the band rejected that interpretation. 

Regardless of their name, it was clear that the band would be the outlier of the night’s entertainment. I certainly wasn’t confident that the showtunes and accapella performances from the rest of the lineup would allow for a seamless transition into a rock concert and provide the atmosphere the band was expecting. This was a benefit concert for a theater production, and as the audience filled into the venue it became clear that most of them were themselves involved with Georgetown theater. A large red and yellow striped backdrop hung behind the stage, inspired by Pippin’s medieval themes and reminiscent of a Renaissance fair. So when Kicking Cans finally took the stage at the end of the night, I honestly wasn’t sure what kind of reaction they were going to get. 

The band, however, wasn't concerned. “We brought a different type of energy,” Rosenthal told me after the fact, “and we were confident in the song selection.” Rosenthal and Warrier stood in the center, singing together on “Brazil.” Fenwick and Staas stood to one side of the stage on lead and backup guitar respectively, while Collins on bass stood across from them and Garza played drums in the back. The set started simple, with just Rosenthal singing the opening lines of “Brazil,” and without much reaction from the audience. Things picked up when Warrier took over the vocals and Fenwick came in on guitar. The crowd really started to get into it near the end of “Brazil,” when Rosenthal and Warrier were harmonizing during the chorus. 

“The gig was great!” Rosenthal said. “Everything about it was fun. The audience was really receptive and it just made things even better.” 

The band expressed interest in collaborating with Prospect Records, a student-run record label on Georgetown’s campus, and potentially doing basement shows with them. “Prospect is a great resource,” Garza said, “If you want to release music through them you can do that, and you can also perform off-campus with their help.” 

The last few months have seen a large number of new student musical groups formed on campus. One might call it a renaissance—others might call it a growing, rising bubble. But Kicking Cans was confident that the bubble would not burst. “There’s a lot of people going to these concerts, these shows, and we’re just trying to remind people what this music is like,” Rosenthal said. 

“It’s for us to have fun,” said Collins, “Because at Georgetown it can be hard if you’re knee-deep in bio-chem or whatever…this is a good way to forget about all that. So I guess that’s why the bubble won’t burst: [Kicking Cans] is less expensive than therapy.”

You can follow the band on Instagram at @kickingcansband to keep up with their latest gigs and performances. Catch them at a future show near you!


Benjamin Fishbein is a sophomore in the College studying History and Theology. He is one of the Indy’s Commentary Editors.


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