ACL

ACL 2022: Sloppy Jane’s Haley Dahl Paints with her Personal Palette

todayOctober 21, 2022 128 1 2 5

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By Ashley Farnie
Assistant Music Director

My disappointment in ACL’s lineup this year was resolved with the announcement of Sloppy Jane’s set scheduled for Weekend 2. I was excited to see the band on a smaller stage after seeing the band perform at Mohawk in March and the Moody Amphitheatre in May supporting Phoebe Bridgers.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

The intimacy allotted by festival settings allows for casual viewings of lower-profile artists. At the BMI stage, Sloppy Jane soundchecks in front of the audience. Experiencing these unscripted elements of an artist’s performance allows the audience to further respect the band. The crowd chattered amongst themselves as I overheard conversations about finding Sloppy Jane’s music. Collectively joined for a theatrical cause, the audience revels in our appreciation for orchestral instrumentation and an overwhelming stage presence.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

Frontrunner Haley Dahl characterizes her bandmates as “an amalgamation of weird, cartoonish people,” demonstrating the ensemble of musical personalities throughout their performance. Each musician maintains their onstage character specific to their instrument. While Haley captivates the crowd,  the bandmates build a narrative on stage creating a pleasantly

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit conducting orchestra from the stage floor.
Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Niles Davis. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Haley after the set to acquire some further information about the band. Formed when Haley was in high school, the band’s rotating members provide further diversity and diversion from the norm. With a rotating cast of animated personas throughout Sloppy Jane’s existence, each band member contributes to the onstage presence in their own way.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind electric guitar.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

In line with Sloppy Jane’s presence, Haley enjoys the “multimedia” coverage the band produces. Sloppy Jane is more than a band. It is an outlet Haley created to conquer her creative pursuits in one project. When asked how her creative pursuits outside of the band influence her as an artist, Haley states “everything I do is kinda Sloppy Jane, but Sloppy Jane is also everything.”

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

Sloppy Jane is in the midst of their Madison tour through mid-November, touring the 2021 album. With some shows featuring Niis or Liza Anne as opening acts, a festival show was the only date for Austin, TX. Thankfully, Sloppy Jane has visited the city twice already this year, so I will refrain from complaining about the lack of a headline show and appreciate any crumb I can get.

When creating music, Haley “want[s] to make albums that feel like movies…where it is very narratively linear and where there is kinda a whole world inside of it.” Sloppy Jane’s performance of Madison constitutes more than the band simply playing their songs live onstage. Equipped with tracks titled “Overture” and “Epilogue,” Madison outlines a Broadway performance. Although the band interweaves tracks from Willow (2018), unreleased singles, and a My Chemical Romance cover, the narrative arc of Madison unfolds in the album’s sequence.

Dahl in electric blue velvet coat jacket atop rhinestone body suit holding microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Niles Davis.

My frequent flyer status at Sloppy Jane sets does not halt my excitement when Haley begins conducting her band. A chaotic and exhilarating experience, Haley’s role as conductor allows her to assert her direction (in the moment / at the time). The steady stomping of electric blue velvet-heeled boots signals in the ensemble for the band’s opening number, “Party Anthem.”

Dahl in electric blue facing back of stage.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

“Party Anthem” is a more palatable track that can be listened to independent of Madison and is coincidentally my most recommended track when introducing people to Sloppy Jane. This song encapsulates Haley’s vision of portraying a cinematic story through a single track.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind electric guitar and microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Niles Davis. 

Haley begins the set in her full uniform – a monochromatic, velvet, electric blue suit atop a bejeweled lingerie once-piece, with rhinestone fishnets to complete the look. Before grabbing her electric guitar that perfectly matches her suit, Haley crawls to the back of the stage to apply tears of the same shade of blue. As the tears stream down her cheeks and dry on her skin, the bright Texas sun illuminates her skin creating a shimmering effect on her tears.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

Throughout the performance of Madison, Haley strips down to her corset, zipping her boots back up before strutting across the stage. The energy heightens with a lively performance of “Where’s My Wife” from Sloppy Jane’s 2018 album. Haley hopped down from the stage, joining the audience members on the barricade, making up for the lack of Phoebe Bridgers’ feature during the live performance. Check out my review of Saddest Factory Records showcase at SXSW and Phoebe’s featured performances with each label signee.

Dahl in electric blue body suit on stage floor.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

Fans of emo music were excited to hear Sloppy Jane’s cover of “Cancer” by My Chemical Romance. With Paramore headlining both weekends of ACL, their fans were sure to be in the crowd unexpectant of a diversion from orchestral, avant-garde rock.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Niles Davis.

Haley struts to the keyboard to lull the audience with a piano ballad before approaching the show’s finale, equipped with a kick line.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind keyboard.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

Sloppy Jane celebrates their performance with Haley, guitarist Nathan Lopez, and bassist Isabella Bustanoby continuing to play their instruments while participating in a kick line. The band begins their New Year’s countdown that occurs at the end of each set, a tradition to appreciate the impending future every day; to recognize that we can make decisions without waiting for the calendar to tell us when; to have a little celebration of every day, because, we just saw Sloppy Jane perform, why wouldn’t we be celebrating?

Dahl and bandmates perform kick line.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Niles Davis.

Haley occupies the stage alone while band members exit offstage behind her. A cinematic experience of Madison, as Sloppy Jane intended.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

As much as Sloppy Jane allows Haley to explore her creativity, her personal palette provides more colors for Haley to paint with. Haley has expanded her portfolio, pursuing the film industry in addition to maintaining her spot as frontwoman of Sloppy Jane.

Dahl in electric blue velvet suit behind microphone.
Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane at ACL 2022. Photo by Ashley Farnie.

In 2023, Haley Dahl will appear in A24 film, “I Saw the TV Glow,” alongside Phoebe Bridgers and Snail Mail frontrunner Lindsey Jordan. Although unclear what form Haley’s creative collaboration with the film industry will take, her previous experience directing music videos is sure to aid her in this endeavor.

In Haley’s creative pursuits, she explains that “it all feels a little bit related, like the imagery that I use even in music videos that I don’t direct still feels similar to the motifs that I use in my own universe.” I think we can expect the continuity of Madison’s narrative style and thematic aesthetic in future productions of Haley Dahl.

I hopefully await Sloppy Jane’s return to Austin and the expanse of their sonic universe. For now, I will rely on Haley’s participation in other forms of media and the pictures and videos I have from seeing Sloppy Jane three times this year.

Featured Image by Niles Davis.

 

 

Written by: Autumn McGowan

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