Dark Dude, King Dude

click to enlarge Dark Dude, King Dude
Chris Conde

I have a huge crush on T.J. Cowgill, the frontman from King Dude. If I’m completely honest with myself, asking my editor if I could cover this show for the Current was probably a way I could low-key maybe meet and get a picture with him (which totally happened, omg yass). I first heard about King Dude through a couple songs he did with fellow dark-folk songstress Chelsea Wolfe, an artist that haunts my headphones on the regular (I actually fall asleep to her latest album The Abyss almost every night). T.J.’s deep baritone vocals drew me in helplessly like a lamb to the slaughter, slaying my goth boy soul, and instantly making me a fan. I checked out a good chunk of their songs, including the new album Sex, and my fan-ship solidified itself.

Opening for King Dude is Street Sects, a harsh-noise/industrial duo from Austin who I heard had “wild” shows. “Wild” I guess would be one way to describe the onslaught of pummeling electronic noise, superabundant fog machine smoke and crazy powerful strobing lights designed to replicate your worst and best acid trip. At one point, the vocalist has a chainsaw and, since you couldn’t see shit because of the fog, you only hear the “zrring!” of the machine as he weaves through the audience presenting the question, “Am I about to die?" Pretty unsettling, but simultaneously, it's magnificently entertaining.

After the fog settles, and chainsaws get packed up, singer/songwriter (and apparently T.J.Cowgill’s squeeze) Foie Gras takes the stage. Armed with an electric guitar and vocal harmonizer Foie Gras pulls us through somber songs about blood pacts and losing pets to cancer. Her elegant soprano melodies whisper over the audience like spells cast to seal our fates.

Up next is King Dude (who I didn’t realize was actually bandless on this tour). Dressed in all black with a black Martin acoustic guitar, a sharp haircut and charming smile, T.J. Cowgill begins to serenade us with songs of the Occult (swoon). “Y’all wanna do a sing-along?" The crowd cheers as Cowgill begins to sing the folksy “Lucifer’s The Light of The World."

"Tell me what's that light?” “Lucifer's the light!” “Lucifer’s the light of the world." The whole setting feels like being at a Sunday morning worship service in church – only this wasn’t church and we weren't exactly singing songs to Jesus. “What do y’all wanna hear now? I didn’t really write a set-list,” T.J. asks after taking a shot of whiskey an audience member handed him on stage. Fans begin to shout song titles, King Dude plays the song, and that’s pretty much how the majority of his hour set went – which was honestly kind of awesome for an artist of his caliber.

Being pretty close to the Bible Belt (some would argue we’re right up in that shit), it’s cool to see artists who rep the other side of the force come to town to kick it with us. San Antonio is so diverse and artists like King Dude who draw audiences that highlight that diversity makes me appreciate how special our town is. On a cold dreary Friday night in Texas, we found solidarity in the darkness.
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