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Coachella first-timer Gotye heads north on April 12. (Cybele Malinowski)

(Sebastian Edge)

(courtesy of Mike Watt)

(courtesy of Pulp)

(courtesy of M83)

Coachella by proxy

Southern California’s loss turns out to be the Bay Area’s musical gain.

An MC waves his hands in Indio Valley, and it rains concerts in the Bay Area. That’s because performers at the West Coast’s premier music festival must agree not to play any nearby shows during the festival dates, so bands travel north to stay in fighting form. This year, Coachella has expanded from one weekend to two, and a full-out storm of up to 20 shows around here is expected. So if you don’t want to travel eight hours, pay close to $300, and battle seething crowds (75,000 at Coachella versus 2,250 at the Warfield) and sweltering temperatures, buy yourself a Muni ride and enjoy the show. Below, five of our top picks.

April 11,
HP Pavilion

Even though they’re playing a hockey arena in support of a mediocre album (by Radiohead standards, anyhow), Thom Yorke and company still provide the most epic audio experience around. Well worth the trip to San Jose.

April 11,

In a Coachella year heavy on reunions, the return of Mike Watt and George Hurley’s post-Minutemen outfit may be the most anticipated event of the bunch. Watt is the reigning ambassador of authentic punk, and, for the ex-college-radio-DJ crowd at least,  this show will be as much about being seen as about seeing.

April 12,

On the (relative) newcomer front, Belgian-Australian Gotye (pronounced “go-te-ay,” it seems) has all the eclectic weirdness of Beck in his unpredictable Mellow Gold glory. Call it psychedelic electro soul, or tribal garage pop, or...well, just catch the show and decide for yourself.

April 17,
The Warfield

In a long-awaited return, the Britpop darlings come to the Warfield for an exclusive performance date. Two decades after the band’s mid-90s peak, lead man Jarvis Cocker still has animal attraction to spare.


April 22–23,
The Fillmore

Fans of Air and LCD Soundsystem, here’s your new spacey electronica fix. M83’s two nights at the Fillmore will be the best glimpse of what’s happening in 2012, showcased in a classic San Francisco venue. (Sorry, Black Keys, Oracle Arena doesn’t cut it.)