Everyone who knows Durban knows it’s tough to find places that play decent music, and even tougher to find venues to host good bands. If you don’t want to listen to the latest radio hit, and you’re not an avid collector of the Bump series, then things can get a little tricky. Enter Unit 11, stage left, to save the day.

Unit 11 is the brainchild of a handful of Durban’s music connoisseurs who had essentially had enough of the plight of the local scene. It’s a quirky venue where you can get reasonably priced drinks and have a little razzle to a wide range of music that is firmly off the mainstream path. And no, I don’t mean metal. I’m talking about indie, alternative, dubstep and a whole range of other interesting options. The djs can lean towards the obscure at times, but it’s a hell of a lot better than being tormented by Lady Gaga everywhere you go. It lacks the meat market vibe and try-too-hard attempts at cool that many other venues in Durban tend to suffer from. For the most part, the people who have made the effort to find Unit 11 – it’s tucked away down an alley, lending it a bit of a secret society air – are there to have a good time, listening to real music, maybe playing a bit of foosball or ping-pong, and generally just enjoying a laid back atmosphere.

So, given the nature of Unit 11, it seemed fitting that the Shadowclub would be the band to deflower the stage. This is a band that has made a name for itself in music circles in three short years, with an energy-laden brand of bluesy-rock. In fact, it’s quite hard to put a finger on where their sound fits in – it’s a little bit of blues, a touch of indie, a smattering of punk and a healthy dose of rock. This makes them ideal for Unit 11 where eclecticism is the name of the game. Well over 300 people crowded into the venue and were rewarded by a raging performance from the Shadowclub. Frontman Jacques Moolman is a study in stage presence, flinging his skinny-jean-clad figure all over the place as he croons and yells into the microphone. There is a definite ‘70’s influence in their sound, although you wouldn’t think it to look at them. Indeed, when they first step on stage, the uninitiated may be forgiven for having low expectations, as the band appears entirely unassuming. But appearances are deceiving and the Shadowclub explodes into action with the first note. There is no doubt that the crowd got what they were waiting for, and then some.

Definitely a perfect way to introduce live bands to a fabulous new venue in Durban. I’m sure there will be many more to come, and many a night had at Unit 11 dancing to songs you won’t hear at the meat market down the road. Good times.