|PHOTO‚ÄąSOURCE: CRITICAL BLISS
They did meet in church and, yes, they are a rock band, but Critical Bliss does not consider itself ‚ÄúChristian Rock.‚ÄĚ The San Francisco-based, queer identified band only formed two years ago. However, the professional musicians that make up the group effortlessly gel with such a tight sound that it‚Äôs as though they have always played together. When I saw them perform at Martuni‚Äôs this past August, I felt like a teenager at a concert for the first time. I was moved to join the other audience members and stand on my chair while singing at the top of my lungs to rock anthems like You Oughta Know. I left that night energized and inspired.
The majority of the music the band plays are covers, but they also perform original music. While most of it is secular, they often add sacred music when they do church gigs and Leonard Cohen‚Äôs Hallelujah is a part of their regular set list. Spirituality plays a major role in their music and their mission, but not in the traditional sense. The drummer, Julie O‚ÄôNeal says, ‚ÄúSince we met at church and music is a very spiritual experience for us, we knew that we wanted to share our spirit with the world through music. We have a flavor of spirit, whether you call that God or Higher Power or whatever.‚ÄĚ Bass player Kathleen McGuire adds, ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt cater to the audience. It‚Äôs more about what we‚Äôre passionate about.‚ÄĚ
Their name is derived from the term Critical Mass, which is a chain of events that starts spontaneously, reinforces itself and expands. ‚ÄúChoosing our band name was tough,‚ÄĚ says male lead singer Stephen Camarota. They were originally given the name ‚ÄúThe Introverts‚ÄĚ after several of them were caught hiding behind the piano during an MCCSF rehearsal. Unfortunately, the name was already taken by a band in the UK. Luckily, brainstorming a new name, though it was challenging, brought them closer together and they finally settled on ‚ÄúCritical Bliss‚ÄĚ after they polled their fans on Facebook.
The band‚Äôs fans on Facebook also have some questions for them. Carolyn Eidson asks, ‚ÄúDo you have a signature song?‚ÄĚ They agree Taking It To The Streets and Origin of Love are a tie. Pam Quiton asks, ‚ÄúWill there be a CD or video release soon?‚ÄĚ The keyboard player, Dustin Manuel, answers, ‚ÄúWe are in the process of laying down music in the recording studio, but there is not a planned release date yet.‚ÄĚ
Their gigs are incredibly eclectic, including: churches, fundraisers, queer, leather and bondage events. You can also find them at Martuni‚Äôs the second Wednesday of the month at 6pm. Soon, they aspire to play the main stage at San Francisco‚Äôs Pride and ultimately become San Francisco‚Äôs resident LGBT band.
Finally, Kathleen McGuire says in good humor, ‚ÄúWe are available for all sorts of things for hire...musically that is.‚ÄĚ The guitarist Ashley Wai‚Äôolu Moore laughs and adds, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve sold ourselves, but we haven‚Äôt sold our souls.‚ÄĚ
Check out Critical Bliss at www.criticalbliss.com and Like them on Facebook.