Divine Sweater opens Boston Calling with a refreshing setlist of indie rock music

The band Divine Sweater performs at Boston Calling music festival.

Divine Sweater performs at the Boston Calling music festival in Boston, Ma. Photo courtesy of Isabella Osgood.

By Sam Lawrence

The flashing lights, smoke machines, and cheering crowds of the Boston Calling Music Festival would be enough to intimidate any local band, but indie pop group Divine Sweater welcomes the experience not only with excitement, but with confidence.

And that confidence is well-earned, as they just recently surpassed 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, yet another step forward in their growth as an up-and-coming band. Their style of music, which the Boston Globe described as “dreampop,” is becoming more and more popular among modern listeners, as it mixes well-layered harmonies with funky rock instrumentals.

The band consists of five members: lead singer Meghan Kelleher, guitarist and vocalist Sean Seaver, drummer Chris Southiere, bassist Alex Goldberg, and Stephen Lin on the keys. The group met while studying at Boston College, and friends and family celebrated their success Friday as they performed at a major venue in the city where their dream began.

Divine Sweater released their first album “Human Love” in 2019, and since then they have performed at countless locations and even went on tour this past fall. With such a strong fan base supporting them, the group’s future is bright. Even still, however, nerves can come about when performing at a festival that sees over 40,000 visitors a year. 

“There’s always a little bit of nerves right before you go on no matter where you’re at, but once you’re on the stage and things start rolling, the adrenaline hits and then it just kind of rolls from there,” said Goldberg, sporting a pair of golden sunglasses.

To ward off any feelings of uneasiness going into the weekend, the band made sure to rehearse frequently leading up to their set on Friday. The pressure was heightened due to this being the first performance of the festival. 

“We rehearsed a bunch this week, more than we do for a normal show for sure,” said Seaver. “In the month of May, we played a warm up gig and then rehearsed a lot for today.”

The crowd of fans that formed around the Red Stage of the Harvard Athletic Complex, where the group performed, held a few familiar faces.

“I’ve been here the whole ride,” said Timmy Kelleher, the brother of lead vocalist Meghan Kelleher. Timmy said his sister has dreamt of performing her whole life. “She’s always been a singer songwriter,” he said, “and I think it’s finally all coming together now.”

Three proud uncles were also in the crowd: Uncle Mike Kelleher, Uncle Mike Seaver, and Uncle Mike Faber.

Mike Seaver, the uncle of guitarist and vocalist Sean Seaver, came to support his nephew and the group as a whole. Seeing one of his family members perform at the festival was a proud moment for Seaver, who attributes Divine Sweater’s current success to a perfect combination of songwriting, production, and stage presence. 

“The talent is just so good; the writing ability, the ability to put the music together, and the performance of all the members together has been fun to watch,” he said.

Similarly, Mike Kelleher, the uncle of Meghan Kelleher, sees a bright future for the five-member band as they continue to release music and book performances: “I hope they get over to the west coast, I hope the whole country gets to see this band,” he said, wearing a custom Divine Sweater t-shirt.

Hannah Stahl has been watching Seaver and Kelleher perform for years. The three of them attended Boston College together and have been friends ever since. She came to the festival on Friday to support the band at their biggest performance yet. “It’s just really cool to see one of your best friends live their dreams,” said Stahl.

Once the crowd started to fill up, Divine Sweater hit the stage and delivered a performance of some of their most beloved songs including “2X2” and their most recent hit, “Deep Side.”

As they performed, more and more onlookers assembled in front of the stage to hear the band’s refreshing style of indie rock music. One fan, Brady Barry, said he only recently discovered the band through listening to a playlist containing songs from all the artists at Boston Calling. “They really drew me in,” said Barry. “I just liked the vibe, it has good low-key energy.”

The band’s most recent release, “Deep Side,” dropped on May 7 but grew viral on TikTok long before its release due to the group’s teasers on social media. The appeal of a relatable band with quirky social media videos has drawn in over 56,000 followers on the app, and over two million views on a humorous video of Southiere almost missing his drumming entrance because he was so caught up in dancing to the music.

“Sometimes I feel like our music can be a little too labored over when we’re recording it, and we recorded [Deep Side] like two days after it was written, so it had a certain freshness to it in the studio that we don’t always get,” said Seaver, who helped write the song. 

One line in the track reads “Million different particles not under control, I am a million different particles under your control,” which aims to resemble the infatuation that comes with a sudden, inexplicable romantic crush. 

As the band continues to gain national attention for their new music, Kelleher is sure not to forget where Divine Sweater got its start.

“I think the Boston underground house show scene is really underrated and a lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s totally how we came up and how we built our fan base here in Boston,” she said.

From playing in smaller venues across the city, to now performing at arguably the largest festival in the state, Divine Sweater’s unified front can be attributed to the strong friendship that they’ve built over the years.

“I think that people who see us play live can tell that we’re actually friends and we actually have bits that we’re doing,” said Kelleher, “being pals is the best.”

Divine Sweater’s full discography, including their three albums, is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music.