EVEN in a town where residencies have increasingly become a format of choice, with artists both famous and obscure settling in for ongoing weekly appearances at such clubs as Spaceland, the Hotel Cafe, Largo and the Fold, the opening of Rancid's "Hellcat Records Night" on Tuesday at the Echo was one for the books.
Not just because fans got to see one of the most popular and enduring of American punk bands play a rare acoustic set in a 350-capacity room, then shake hands and pose for pictures with leader Tim Armstrong afterward, but also for the long-range goals set in motion by the event -- the first of Rancid's four Tuesday nights at the club.
According to Armstrong, the band hopes to establish a continuing series that will showcase acts on its Hellcat label as well as unaffiliated local bands.
The emphasis will be on groups from the club's Echo Park neighborhood, with an all-ages admittance policy and a low cover charge. (At the opener, Rancid was joined by Society's Parasites and the Hellcat band Left Alone.)
It's an ideal that Armstrong, guitarist Lars Frederiksen, bassist Matt Freeman and drummer Brett Reed remember from their formative days in the late '80s on Berkeley's storied Gilman Street -- a scene they saluted in "Journey to the End of the East Bay" during their hourlong show Tuesday.
Like most of their songs in unplugged form, it made for a hearty crowd sing-along. Overall, the musicians (with Reed wielding a guitar and Freeman turning in the flashiest playing) and the audience seemed to enjoy the acoustic experience, which brought out a husky, Shane MacGowan-Joe Strummer quality in Armstrong's voice. But at the end of the show the singer took a quick poll of the crowd and announced that on the next Tuesday it will be Rancid at full, plugged-in strength.
Where: The Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park
When: 9 p.m. Tuesdays; ends March 28
Price: sold out
Contact: (213) 413-8200