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Photograph: Marfa CapodannoDylan Ryan

Herculaneum at the Hideout and Dylan Ryan Sand at Bar DeVille | Concert preview

Dylan Ryan adds two hometown gigs to a dizzying schedule.


Dylan Ryan may not be a recognizable name but there’s a decent chance you’ve seen him onstage. A multi-instrumentalist who mostly gigs as a drummer, he’s played in several Chicago bands, including Pitchfork Fest vets Icy Demons and Michael Columbia, and his insatiable drive is matched by his bottomless appetite for trying out new ideas. A couple years ago he decamped to L.A., where he’s since joined eclectic electro-pop act Rainbow Arabia in addition to indie standby Cursive, who he spent much of last year touring with, but two projects—one old and one new—bring him back to town.

Maybe his most enduring vehicle, jazz sextet Herculaneum also boasts the deepest catalogue of all Ryan’s outfits. A series of smart, elegantly-arranged albums spotlight a lockstep front line that has grown to be four members strong. Appearances by the group are rare, as you’d imagine of any combo whose members are spread out across four cities, but the band is reassembling at the Hideout to celebrate a decade of music that begins at postbop and goes way beyond.

Ryan’s most recent album, Sky Bleached, arrived earlier this year from a startup trio named Sand, and it seems to combine all of Ryan’s disparate influences into one sprawling, stylistically omnivorous set. The group uses improvisation as a springboard to reach any number of points on the map, from drifting, poly-rhythmic meditations to scorching, fuzz-smothered free jazz. The bassist on the disc, Devin Hoff, another ex-Chicagoan, joins him at Bar DeVille, while gifted local guitarist Matt Schneider subs for Sand man Tim Young, guaranteeing a set that’s as unpredictable as it is rare.

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