Feb. 23 2011 10:25 AM

Touring-band residencies are a growing trend in San Diego, but are they worthwhile?

One recent Tuesday at The Casbah, Los Angeles roots-rockers Everest delivered a blistering set to a packed house. Dedicated fans were in full force: People joined in the syncopated handclaps of “Keeping the Score,” a track from the band’s 2010 record On Approach, and women in the front screamed with delight when the band launched into a song from its first album.

But the band’s work had just begun. To test new material before going into the studio, Everest will perform a series of weekly residencies up and down the coast throughout February and into March. They’re playing at The Echo in Los Angeles on Mondays, The Casbah on Tuesdays and Hotel Utah Saloon in San Francisco on Thursdays.

Los Angeles clubs have hosted residencies for years, having up-and-coming bands play multiple dates on Monday nights to attract bargoers with no cover charge and industry types in search of hot new talent. The model has been a boon for clubs and bands alike, putting acts like Local Natives and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes on the map while boosting the club’s cachet. Now, bands and agents eager to benefit from the trend are setting their sights on San Diego clubs. The Casbah and Soda Bar have hosted residencies for touring bands during the past six months. Cory Stier, who books local shows under the name CS Touring, says he maintains a growing list of bands hoping to get set up at Soda Bar.

But the residencies here haven’t had nearly as much impact or as big of a turnout. Stier wonders whether it’s a workable model in San Diego’s smaller, less competitive market.

“You just want to get everybody and anybody out to come see your show, and then hopefully from there opportunities will arise. Which is always huge in L.A. because the music scene is so fucking huge that you’re never going to get everybody who’s in the scene out to the show,” he says. “Here in San Diego, the only way that I see it really working is if, like, every little blog and everything in San Diego gets on with the residency, with the band, pumping the band.

“It just hasn’t seemed to get set up properly—yet, at least,” he adds.

San Diego clubs have long had band residencies. For example, Bar Pink hosts small-scale residencies with local and touring acts—Stevie and the Hi-Stax recently replaced The Styletones on Monday nights—but they’re not as big a deal as they are in Los Angeles.

Alex Maxwell, who works for The Fold, an agency that books residencies for Silverlake Lounge and Bootleg The ater, says L.A. residencies are usually booked around a release date or ahead of a tour and built up for maximum impact.

“We typically work with local bands that we’ve been kind of developing,” she says. “You want to do a residency with a band that you’ve been working with and it’s kind of the peak of your relationship. You saw them when they were small, perhaps, and you just sort of put them on different shows over the course of time, and then you see them growing and you want to kind of be that last little step before they go out into the world.”

Touring bands have also jumped into the fray. In January, Silverlake Lounge hosted Kinch, a band from Phoenix, as part of a 15-date residency series in which they played three Tuesday shows at Soda Bar and Saturdays at a venue in Scottsdale, Ariz. There was a decent turnout in Los Angeles, Maxwell says, but the crowds weren’t nearly as big in San Diego. Each show sold no more than 40 tickets, Stier estimates.

Irvine’s Young the Giant, who released their self-titled debut in October, also didn’t have a big turnout when they did a residency at The Casbah in August. Ticket sales tapered off after the first night, Casbah owner Tim Mays says.

Steir says Kinch could’ve benefited if their publicist had put out more effort, but another issue seems to be that Soda Bar and The Casbah don’t attract as much foot traffic as clubs like Silverlake Lounge, which is located in a trendy neighborhood and is close to other venues that regularly attract bargoers with free Monday-night residencies. In San Diego, Bar Pink, a venue in the heart of North Park that usually doesn’t charge for shows, might be best positioned for a high-impact residency.

Despite Young the Giant’s relatively low turnout, Mays plans to book more residencies, schedule permitting. The club’s other residences are going well, he says: FM 94/9 is giving Everest a big publicity push and tickets are selling well for upcoming shows with The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, headed by the singer of The Black Crowes. (They’ll play every other Thursday from March 31 through May 12.)

As for Kinch, drummer Jake Malone considers the effort a success, especially since they landed a prestigious L.A. residency and got acquainted with a new band member.

“We were a little nervous going into it, not really knowing what to expect,” he says in an e-mail, “but we were very happy with the result.”

Everest plays with The Fling and Winter’s Fall at The Casbah on Tuesday, March 1. everestband.com