Unlike any other band, the Beast of the East Band (formerly the Pep Band) was originally a student-run organization. This group was not initiated by the music department but rather by the athletic department. For that reason, the history is vague. In the late 1980s, a pep band existed from year to year only if there was a mutual desire between athletic heads and music students. Although it is now a part of the Department of Music, no official records have been maintained so the history of the Pep Band goes back only as far as the students can remember.
In the 1986-1987 academic year, the Pep Band played for a total of two basketball games during the spring semester, after which the effort died because of lack of interest from students. Determined to have a band during the 1989-1990 hockey season, athletic head, Dick Umile, contacted the music department. However, since it was so late in the season, the only band the music department could come up with was band director Christopher Humphrey on organ. Mr. Umile contacted Humphrey at the beginning of the 1990 academic year and a decision was made to once again start a Pep Band run by student leaders. Rob Fogg and George Downing recruited members and directed the band. This 1990-1991 Pep Band functioned primarily as a hockey band, although they were also paid to play at two basketball games. In addition, the Pep Band traveled to the Hockey East playoffs in Providence, RI and played at a rally for Mario Cuorno, NY Governor, as the “Scream Machine Pep Band.” The Pep Band continued playing for a strong season in 1991-1992, traveling to the Boston Garden and the Providence Civic Center.
The 1992-1993 season changed the nature of the Pep Band as it was given official status when Christopher Humphrey became the director. The Pep Band became more involved with the athletic department, playing for most of the basketball season as well as the entire hockey season. The band also traveled to the Boston Garden for the league playoffs once again. For the first time, many of the student musicians in the Pep Band were not also necessarily members of the marching band. Until this time, the Pep Band had served as a continuation of the Marching Band for many students.
George Downing unofficially led the band in numerous games; however, Mr. Humphrey continued to function as director until 1996. They once again played for the entire hockey season and a majority of the basketball season. The Pep Band performed at both basketball and hockey playoffs and then traveled to Albany, NY for the NCAA tournament. During the 1997-1998 year, the music department was forced to find a new director when Humphrey left. Tim Russell, a teaching assistant pursuing a master's degree in Music Education at UNH, stepped in to fill the vacant position for the year. Membership of the Pep Band dropped to about 15 students.
In 1998-1999, Thomas Keck was hired to serve as Director of Athletic Bands and took charge of the Pep Band. The band grew in numbers to nearly 40 student musicians and continued to play for both the hockey and basketball teams. During that year, the President’s Office paid for the Pep Band to attend the NCAA playoffs in California. Once the students realized that Keck was going to be around for the following year, membership grew to a then-record number of 70 students, and for the first time, many music majors began to get involved with the Pep Band. This increase in membership was so great that the Pep Band was divided into two separate bands: the White Band and the Blue Band. Approximately 35 students represented each band and had to commit to only half of the scheduled games. The 1999-2000 Pep Band played for 18 events that included games for both the hockey and basketball teams. An attendance and grading system was also instituted to serve as a way of selecting band members for traveling.
During the 2000-2001 season, the band grew to 80 members and the Pep Band became its own academic course, MUSI 462. The Pep Band was once again divided into two bands. Keck continued to serve as director, although Casey (Speed) Goodwin was selected to help out when Keck was unavailable to attend scheduled games. When Keck left the university, Erika Svanoe took over direction of the Pep Band. The band continued to remain large and continued to exist as two separate bands. Under Svanoe’s direction, the Pep Band traveled to Minnesota in 2006 for the women’s hockey playoffs. Svanoe left the band after the 2005-2006 season and was replaced by Casey Goodwin, who had previously been part of the Pep Band staff when Thomas Keck was director. Matt Doiron was also added to the staff in 2006 to serve as assistant pep band director. In March of 2008, members of the band traveled to Duluth, Minnesota for the NCAA Women's Frozen Four tournament.
In order to give the group its own identity and "attitude," the band was renamed the "Beast of the East Band" after a contest in the Fall of 2008. The band logo was redesigned to reflect the name change.
In January, 2010, the Beast of the East performed at the first outdoor women's college hockey game. The game was held at Fenway Park in 20-degree weather. Despite the cold, it was a fantastic experience for all involved (especially since UNH won). Following the game, all four bands involved in the "Frozen Fenway" series of games performed together in front of the Green Monster for all of the fans. That spring, the band traveled to Hartford, CT for the men's America East basketball semifinals and to Albany, NY for the NCAA Men's ice hockey regional tournament.