Neil Yanke ’01 and his guitar are finally in good company.
“I’ve been playing guitar since sophomore year in high school, and this was my first opportunity to play in a band,” Yanke said. “It’s a lot more fun than just playing in my room.”
Yanke, who is the starting center and captain for the men’s basketball team, and four other seniors have formed a new band called “Hung Jury,” a name which is subject to change. Led by Andy Hung, drummer for the former band “Rocinante,” the band primarily covers ’80s glam music and is one of several fledgling undergraduate bands trying to reinvigorate the Yale band scene.
In addition to Hung, who plays drums, and Yanke, who plays lead guitar, “Hung Jury” is made up of lead singer Tom Gioia, rhythm guitarist Steve Barnett and bassist Johnny Scafidi, who also played with “Rocinante.”
The group’s repertoire of ’80s rock includes songs by INXS, the chart-topping “8675309” by Tommy Tutone, and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” as a special treat.
“It definitely works at parties because it’s definitely danceable,” Hung said of the band’s current set list.
The band found this out firsthand a few weeks ago when they played at a private party at Risk, a nightclub on Crown Street. Their first gig was opening up the Yale Symphony Orchestra Halloween concert last fall, at which they played “Highway to Hell,” by AC/DC.
They have no other gigs lined up yet. After the Risk party, they were approached to play for Sabrosa, Hung said, but could not work out logistics.
The group first got together last October. Hung and Scafidi were former “Rocinante” band members, and Gioia had roomed with Hung their freshman and sophomore years. Barnett had jammed with Hung their sophomore year and introduced Yanke to the group.
As “Hung Jury” attempts to set up gigs and establish a following, they face a Yale music scene that is less active than in recent years.
“It’s a tough scene,” Hung said. “The music scene at Yale is pretty intimate.”
Students cited the graduation of students in former Yale bands such as “Pearly Sweets and the Platonics,” “Six-pack Annie” and “The Sextones” as one reason for the recent slowdown.
“We’re in a revival period right now,” Mary Bennett ’02 said.
Bennett is the coordinator of Turn It Up, an undergraduate student organization whose goal is to foster and centralize Yale’s music community, as well as to establish a link between the Yale campus and local New Haven bands.
Bennett also cited a lack of performance space as another factor affecting the music scene.
“We can’t find venues on the Yale campus,” Bennett said. “We’re running into a lot of bureaucratic red tape.”
Joel Resnicow ’03, who plays lead guitar for “Milo,” a new jam band, agreed with Bennett.
“It’s really hard to find a decent venue at Yale,” Resnicow said. “We are happy to play anywhere.”
“Milo” performed Feb. 2 at the Women’s Center as part of a Turn It Up concert, along with “Skin the Goat,” another undergraduate band.
Bennett said the show was a success and that she sees positive trends in the music scene.
“Since we’ve been having shows — the response has been promising,” Bennett said.
With bands like “Hung Jury” and “Milo” entering the fray, Yale music lovers should be optimistic about this revival of the campus music scene.
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