Well known and loved local act Cuba is Japan celebrated their debut 7 inch launch Friday night at The Workers Club. Distributed through new Melbourne label Alpine Areas the single has been much anticipated and not surprisingly the gig sold out.

Starting the night off were up and coming Melbourne band Sans Gras followed by one of the many highlights of the night in new band Pow Pow Wow. Pow Pow Wow drew the audience in from the front bar and smoking area with their up-beat sound and fun lyrics. While that may sound generic be assured this band has some serious credentials backing it in drummer Ben Ely of Regurgitator. And when you say up-beat and fun sound it’s like popcorn popping and Mario hitting a double up. One couldn’t help but smile and bop along.

Next up before the headliner was A Dead Forest Index, a solid support act who surely everyone came to see equally as much as Cuba is Japan. They filled the room up and sorry to any poor soul who went to the toilet or had a last drag on a cigarette and was left stuck at the back.

Playing songs inspired by a 16th century Portuguese explorer, it’s no wonder Cuba is Japan describe themselves as story-tellers. Having been to only a few of their gigs previously the high level of tension in the air this night was more than noticeable with the audience eagerly waiting in anticipation for them to begin, getting as close to the stage as was allowed. The band has a commanding presence which fits in well with the subject matter of their songs, with each one being introduced as either about finding oneself lost at sea or something else about Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe – heavy stuff. The music had a very dramatic, cinematic quality to it and you could easily close your eyes and picture the stormy sea and ship, particularly with tracks ‘The Truth Absolute’ and ‘Lost (pacific/vacant).’ It was the latter track chosen as their closing number  that really stole the show, featuring an electrifying violin solo from Cameron Potts that gripped the audience’s attention and caught their breath.

Another important feature of the night is the 7 inch itself lovingly coddled in a knitted cover, which as personally checked also fits over your head. If there are any left no doubt information on how to purchase one can be found here: http://cubaisjapan.com/journal/

–        Hannah Joyner