Photo: Jeff MinAs one of the openers for Tomorrow Never Knows, it was a concern as to whether or not King Dude would actually have enough time to settle into his set. Just a few months ago the new gen man-in-black headlined a show at Chicago’s Empty Bottle, and made a lasting impression as a lyricist with seemingly endless upside. At Schubas all he could manage was a sample-sized portion.

Short on time, he stuck primarily to Burning Daylight. His grizzly voice, a meat-grinded Mark Lanegan weapon of sorts, resonated in intense bursts. “Vision in Black” offered a simple, but harrowing scope on Dude’s occult perspective:

You are a vision in blood
You are a vision in blood
I will drown the world in your shining crimson blood
You are a vision in blood

The forthright nature of Dude’s lyrics was even more apparent live. He kept his set concise, allowing his cadence to do most of the talking. Theatrics wasn’t a big part of his set. Instead he portrayed a quiet intensity which couldn’t have come across more poignantly than in the blasphemous themes of  “Jesus in the Courtyard:”

Jesus will not save him
A savior will not rise
Satan kissed him on his cheek
Said his last goodbye

Not deterring too far from the man-in-black persona, “Barbara Anne” was his opportunity to balance his set out, as it created a softer, more nostalgic bridge between his cold demeanor and vicious lyrics. But even in that sense he still managed to siphon out needless sentimentality for something more venomous:

I’ll do anything you ask me Barbara Anne
Ill shoot that man in the head if he hurt you Barbara Anne

Dude’s ability to incorporate abstract emotions into vivid stories is his biggest asset. There’s a Johnny Cash quality to his songwriting, that makes him an instant draw. And in a live setting it comes together in mesmerizing fashion. The time restriction, however, was an unavoidable obstacle – his set wasn’t enough to have the audience clamoring for more; a guttural séance cut short before the ghosts arrive. Nevertheless he was still able to extract an incredible amount of lyrical value from the time he was allotted. Nothing like murder, satan and blood nods on a mid-winter Chicago eve.