Last Thursday was the last Cake or Death at Unit 11 and was aptly titled: DEATH. Bob Perfect reviews the wake of a venue that has made its way into the hearts of Durban’s live music scene.


Cake or Death was a weekly acoustic gig held on Thursday nights at Unit 11 that showcased Durban’s generally gentler talent. But like the Eddie Izzard joke that the gig was named after suggests, once the cake runs out, all that is left is Death. Last Thursday night was Cake or Death’s last hurrah as Unit 11 will be closing at the end of the month. It saw an extensive line up of Durban’s talent taking to the stage to help work off the debt of a venue that became close to many musicians’ and live music lovers’ hearts.



5 hours after the show started, I made my way through the makeshift fencing into the Unit 11 beer garden. I hadn’t gone to review the show, but rather to revel in the wake. This was a wake after all, and revel I, and many others, did.

The first thing I noticed, which was quite blatant, was that the venue was probably the fullest I’d ever seen it. It appeared that Durban had come out in force to pay its respects to the dying venue, but I soon realised that most of the people there had never even been to Unit before. It was strange to be asked by people where the toilets were, and even stranger that the question was genuine and not because they needed to powder their noses. With cocaine, which was often the norm in the past. (Fuck it, not like I’m wrong. And hell, if the money that’d been spent on bags at that place had been spent at the bar, Unit would keep going for the next 3 years.)



The reasons for the new crowd were many and varied: people coming back from their studies around the country, Friday being a public holiday, a great line-up at a cheap price and a heightened form of rubber necking; wanting to be a part of something dying.

I chatted to Nich Hustler when I got there. He’d played first, so obviously the crowd hadn’t gotten there yet, but he said he played his best show to date. Although Unit was dying, it was obvious that the acts that have played there wouldn’t.

I spent most of the night talking to people. It was a wake after all and wakes are events where remembering the departed is often expressed through anecdotes, drinking and the occasional song. I just chose to focus on the first two until Fruit and Veggies took the stage.



As far as I can remember, Thursday was the first time that Fruit and Veggies played since it was announced that Purity was pregnant, and it was their first show with their new drummer. 6 months into her pregnancy Purity had more stage presence than every single fucking South African band that gets played on the radio. That’s not an exaggeration in the slightest. Fruit and Veggies delivered the best set I’d ever seen them play and one of the best sets I’d ever seen, period. They started off a bit gingerly but by the end of the first song they were already in full swing. I wasn’t there to review the bands, but I couldn’t help but be taken aback by one of the best live performances I’ve seen to date. There are many rumours about the future of the band, but if they fold, it’ll be a true loss to original South African music.



Up next were Gangs of Ballet, who I didn’t watch. As much as they’ve been getting a lot of radio attention and seem to be garnering a fan base, like many of the girls that have been in my life, I’m just not that into them. It’s nothing personal, we’re just too different. They prefer the straight and narrow, I’m more into the “This’ll probably get me arrested”.

I took the chance to take a smoke break and headed down the alley with a crew to get lifted. Fuck it, who wants to be sober at a wake? Stolen Nolan, you and your overpriced, Doom scented greenery will be sorely missed.



We got back to Unit and the bands had changed but my sentiment hadn’t. The La Els were on and as much as I’m friends with the guys, I just wasn’t interested in catching the show. I caught a few bars of I’m Not Trying as I got a quart from the then almost empty fridges and couldn’t help but chuckle as I remembered Roger Young’s review of their E.P. To be fair though, they were trying, and put on a show that got what was left of the crowd moving, I just wasn’t feeling it. Different strokes and shit.



Somebody said to me that Unit always seemed like a private party that they let you be a part of, and that was exemplified once the bands had finished and most of the crowd had left. About 20 people remained after 2pm. A ragtag bunch consisting of the bar staff, the owners, a few musicians, the resident DJ’s, Russel Smith, Leigh Vermaak and myself. And I’ll tell you what, it was turned into a night that none of us will soon forget.

There was dancing bar, shots all around, joints being passed in the alley around back, dancing to The Smiths and Girl Talk, and all around good times being shared by a group of people drawn together by a venue with a unique character.

I’ve said for a while that the death of Unit, while a tragic loss, is not the end of the Durban live music scene, but even I couldn’t help but have a heavy heart for a place that added so much to our lives. Unit was never meant to be a live music venue. In the beginning, they were vehemently against it, but what it grew to be became such an important part of our weekends and a valuable asset to live music in this city.

There will be more venues, and there will be more shows. Our parents watched bands all over this city long before we were born and our kids and grandkids will be watching bands in this city long after we’re gone, but I can’t help but think that we’ll be telling them stories about Unit the way our parents tell us about Port of Call and the way the 30 somethings speak of The Rift.

Thomas Krane

Black Math


*All images © Matt Stroud

18 Responses to “DEATH”
  1. Not a Nazi says:

    Go to a show. Don’t watch the bands. Write about it.
    Fuck, winning a blog award is easy.

  2. luke says:

    got to blog, fail to read it properly, post a comment. fuck, the internet is fucking easy man.

  3. Random name says:

    Wow Bobby, you can actually write.
    Summed it up perfectly. Nice one boy.

  4. Matt_Theknight says:

    as recent winners of a recent South African Blog Award, where we won, we here at Durban Is Yours are willing to acknowledge that you have made a comment.

  5. DIY don’t care about blog awards, i’ve seen the certificate, it’s sitting in bob’s toilet – where it should rightly be.
    all awards are a circle jerk for the ego and DIY have taken the right attitude.
    never change, keep the blog awesome and bring the lulz.

    <3 you baby.

  6. Shotgun being the first ever DIY celebrity.
    You totally TMZ’d me.

  7. ANADA BOYCHIE says:

    Go to Rocca Bar, buy some drink, flex a bit, Fuck these women are easy

  8. leigh says:

    Nailed it, Bobby. Just like the Romans 🙂

    I always felt sorry for the under 30s, for missing out on The Rift and The Station and Crash.
    Unit changed that.
    Now I’m just grateful I’m not one of the 30- somethings that stay at home and talk about the good old days.

    Here’s to living the good days, every night.

  9. Skullboooooi says:

    Bob, you were good but I think that the photo essay on megan summed up more of the evening than words could. Priceless. Thank you so, so much, Megs.

  10. xdoomx says:

    Ja, wow, that blonde girl was DRONK. Highlight was watching her sing into the (off) microphone while the DJ played.

  11. Dude. says:

    I’m gonna be da one to say it….Thomas Krane suck. Fuck that shit.

    Kiff review Perfect.

  12. Hunter Less Thompson says:

    Look at me daddy, I can do Gonzo Journalism. Why is everyone sucking Bob’s dick over this? Boring article filled with cliches. Thank God you don’t write often.

  13. Bob says:

    Hunter Less Thompson? That’s a cool name. Well done.

  14. pissingblood says:

    That another person thinking of your dick, Bob… Sweet review, man. I fucking dig it.

  15. Bob D Yeoman says:

    nice pics.

  16. Marty says:

    sick review.
    i love how bob’s dick is it’s own meme now.


  17. Matt S says:

    I’m touching myself…

  18. That 0 says:

    I enjoyed reading this.
    Thanks Bob/Unit 11

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