Dahl is the 24-year-old frontwoman, bandleader, and conductor of the Brooklyn-based 11-piece avant-rock act called Sloppy Jane. She’s from New York originally, but spent most of her childhood and all of her adolescence living in Los Angeles. Dahl formed the prototype of Sloppy Jane at the age of 15, aiming to make something that sounded like Marilyn Manson or Hole (during our chat, Dahl refers to Courtney Love as an “opera star”). She got a few of her friends together and began cutting her teeth playing gigs at shitty Sunset Strip shows. Instead of going to college, she decided to focus on her music; then, to make money and process some intense feelings, Dahl began dancing at a strip club. During her time at the club, she reimagined her personal style, as well as her identity as a performer—and so the current iteration of Sloppy Jane was born.
As of two years ago, Dahl is back in New York. The punk three-piece band of yore has since been replaced with a more elaborate setup. At the Sloppy Jane show I went to back in April—during Dahl’s month-long residency at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—it felt like there were a million people onstage, including, but not limited to, multiple backup vocalists, a string section, and two separate percussionists. Watching Dahl is what I imagine it must have been like to watch Captain Beefheart perform Trout Mask Replica—or, indeed, any of the L.A. weirdos from Frank Zappa to Harry Nilsson play during the halcyon days of the ’60s and ’70s. This is to say that Sloppy Jane shows do not feel of this era, and watching Dahl onstage is one of the weirdest and best nights out you can have in New York.