At 3 p.m. Wednesday the loudest sound in the Tune Inn was the echo of a mop being slapped against the hard floor. Posters promoting some of the club’s last shows were plastered on a wall near the entrance. The white paper stood out against the dark, muted purples and blues of the walls, but the words “The End of an Era” emblazoned on one stood out most of all.
After 10 years, the Tune Inn, New Haven’s renowned independent rock institution, is closing. The club’s final show is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Club owner Fernando Pinto looks back on the Tune Inn’s days fondly. He characterized his club as an establishment with a sense of purpose.
“I bring happiness in that I provide a service to the community,” Pinto said.
The club is closing because its lease has run out. Pinto said the landlords were planning to increase the rent to the point where if he renewed it that “it’s not worth it to stay here.”
The club has also had problems with its landlords in the past. Pinto said the issue has always been a sensitive one.
“There are certain businessmen who are plugged into the political system in town,” Pinto said. “They saw kids coming down to Ninth Square with purple or blue hair that didn’t fit in. — There are certain people involved in this town who are pretty old school.”
The purple- and blue-haired may now have to drive to Providence or Boston to see their favorite bands. The starting place for well-known groups such as Rancid, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Quicksand, Pinto said, the Tune Inn was at the forefront of Connecticut’s independent music scene. Pinto said he thinks some bands may now skip the state entirely.
“New Haven is losing a great resource,” said Mary Bennett ’02, president of Turn It Up, a Yale student group that organizes rock concerts on campus.
Bennett, who is from Clinton, Conn., said she has been going to the Tune Inn since her early teens. Bennett said she hopes the void created by the Tune Inn’s departure will provoke a new interest in Connecticut’s independent music scene.
“Maybe some sort of new venue will take on great importance,” Bennett said.
Ryan Sheely ’04, the Yale College Council secretary, helped organize last year’s Yale Battle of the Bands at the Tune Inn.
“I think it’s important to find other venues,” he said. “It’s more difficult, but there are a number of other places where bands play frequently.”
But Pinto seemed less hopeful than Sheely and Bennett in assessing the future of New Haven’s music scene.
“You have to care about what you’re doing or else you’ll die,” Pinto said.
He said he thinks his club was successful because music was always the first priority. He added that other clubs which sometimes book the type of bands the Tune Inn features focus too much on business by his standards.
“Their main target is to sell a few drinks,” Pinto said.
The Tune Inn is the third club Pinto has worked at. Rather than move on to a fourth, he plans to focus on his record label, Elevator Music, and perhaps tour with some of the bands he promotes. He is also looking forward to having more personal time.
“I’m ready to invest more time in myself than anything else,” Pinto said.
After 20 years working for music clubs, his initial enthusiasm had started to run out. He said the Tune Inn required so much work that he sometimes missed out on the music.
“Sometimes, there would be a good show, and I wouldn’t get to see it because I’d be making sure everybody else was having fun,” he said.