Friday, July 19, 2024

Tony & the Kiki make a splash with a dose of glam rock

Relive the queerness of 1970s music with Anthony Alfaro’s “Extra Express.”

“Shave your head, bind your chest / Male pronoun-ed, but wear a dress / Pompadour, high heel shoes / You were meant to break the rules,” Tony sings on “Extra Express,” the high-octane opening track from their upcoming Light It Up EP.

Born and raised in Queens, NY, Anthony Alfaro worked for artists like Gloria Estefan (touring with the Miami Sound Machine) — now, the self-described “Genderf*ck Latine Rock and Roll Bruje” and frontperson of Tony & The Kiki is grabbing the limelight with their own band.

If “Extra Express” is anything to go by, Light It Up will have you reliving your disco days and dusting off your funk, prog rock, and Queen albums. But Tony is also in a league of his own. He really does belt it out with bilingual lyrics, glam swagger and platform-heeled high-kicks.

Recorded at Dreamland in Woodstock, NY, and produced by Max Vernon (composer/lyricist for the Broadway-bound musical KPOP), the band took advantage of the treasure trove of vintage instruments at the famous recording studio, including a Hammond B3 organ, Moog synthesizer, Mellotron, clavinets, an antique Wurlitzer piano, guiro, congas, maracas, taiko drums, sleigh bells and an old toy piano. Vernon even captured the sound of Anthony’s high heels as he walked to the microphone and used it as percussion on “Extra Express.”

“Rock and Roll was invented by queer people of color like Little Richard and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and yet there is a still such a lack of representation in the genre,” Vernon says. “In addition to having one of the most incredible voices I’ve ever heard, Anthony is a true original – ferocious and full of intention. Everyone is invited to come hang at our kiki.”

And there is something perfect about this band hitting us in the dog days f summer in New York. “Tony & The Kiki is the clack of seven-inch platform boots on Queens Boulevard, the summer sun hitting your sequin dress and turning the space around you into a discotheque,” Vernon says. “It’s beads of holographic sweat on your forehead from dancing all night after someone put a drop of LSD in your Agua Fresca.” 

“I’m mad about the state of Rock & Roll, mami. Most of these white boys have never twerked on shrooms to the Spice Girls and frankly it shows.”

“We need less bro vibes and more f*cking fabulosity. The face of Rock & Roll needs some sun, a good sparkly painted eyelid, and a sparkly voice to match,” Alfaro says. “We need a rock band that reflects the world, my world, our world.”

Speaking of the band, we love badass bass guitar Yuka Tadano, queer druid key-master Rodney Bush, and non-binary record producing synth witch Max Vernon. And a guest backing vocalist is veteran rock goddess Sophia Ramos who in addition to The Kiki has sang with the likes of Big Brother & The Holding Company, Rod Stewart, Joey Ramone and Metallica’s Jason Newstead.

Stream the single “Extra Expresshere.


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Queer Forty Staff

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