This month will be a big one for Van Halen fans, as the band is expected to debut the leadoff single from its long-awaited new album and start selling tickets for its 2012 world tour. But for a few lucky spectators at New York’s Cafe Wha?, the fun will begin this Thursday (Jan. 5), when the band takes the small club’s stage for what’s rumored to be a 45-minute, invitation-only warm-up set.

Rolling Stone reports that journalists have begun receiving invitations to the show, which will mark Van Halen’s first public performance since the end of their 2007/08 tour. Nobody knows how many people are invited, but it can’t be too many — Cafe Wha? only seats 250.

It seems like an odd choice of venue for the L.A.-based band, but Rolling Stone points out that David Lee Roth’s uncle Manny Roth owned the Cafe, which served as an important performance space for a number of artists during the dawn of the rock era, including Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. It could make Thursday’s gig a nice nod to history — and it reminds us that Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti claimed Van Halen went back to its early demos for inspiration when working on the new record.

In any event, the old days are clearly on the band’s mind, as evidenced by a pair of exclusive new videos the band gave to VHLinks. Click here to listen to the guys reminiscing about judging wet t-shirt contests and the good times they had in Eddie Van Halen’s old Volvo. Are you excited for the new album yet?