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Coachella 2014: Hip-shaking and shoe-gazing, from Foxygen to Pixies

In the past few days at Coachella, there's been a lot of writhing and hip-pumping (deliberately avoiding the word that starts with T and rhymes with working).

I've seen people standing so still, it's as if they're on a high that's left them feeling like they'll shatter if they take one step.

And that was all just onstage.

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The range was so striking, I decided to rank some of these artists on the movement spectrum.

Ranked from least action to most, they are:

10. Paul Westerberg of the Replacements.  First, this was one of my top two acts of the weekend — so fans, control your outrage, please. Blaming a back injury, the frontman lay down or sat for several songs, disappearing behind the loud plaid suits of the other band members and honorary Replacement Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day. But Westerberg's razor-sharp wit and lyrics made him the fastest-moving performer mentally, hands-down.

9. Britpop band Temples. Although the music wasn't shoe-gazing, the band members certainly were. The biggest action came from the keyboardist, who had what must be his trademark move, like a little two-step waltz, back and forth.

8. Fatboy Slim. He was like the grand and powerful Oz, a kind of hologram DJ — at least before I left the set (and the heaving masses) early for the Pixies.

FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2014

7. Pixies. Singer Frank Black strolled a little, but mostly he stood basking in the admiration of a crowd that was about as besotted as any I saw at Coachella this year. Guitarist Joey Santiago, though, did some impressive, if understated, acrobatics involving his guitar and amp chord.

6. The Head and the Heart. When the many members of the Seattle earnest-rock band trooped onstage, the potential for a little group jamming seemed strong. But they were more head and heart than hips.

5. Bryan Ferry. He was like a practiced seducer, all suave moves in his smoking jacket, coy and vain and vulnerable at the same time. He may be 68, but his moves sure worked for me. (And for the other half, the backup singers shook their spangles so well the guy in front of me was spell-bound.)

4. Chvrches. One single spasm of dancing catapulted the Scottish synth-pop band into the top five: when Iain Cook stepped out from behind the synth and took the singing honors for "Under the Tide." He skittered around the stage with this half-kicking, half-skipping dance that was totally transfixing.

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3. Jagwar Ma. When the lead singer does a moonwalk, the bassist is a part-time stage dancer and even the synth player can groove, my heart is won. (Of course, the music had already done that.) This Australian Britpop outfit was clearly having a ball on the last show of its U.S. tour. Don't lose the joy, guys.

2. Samuel Herring of Future Islands. First, go watch the oh-wow video of the band on David Letterman earlier this year. Now my work here is done, because you've seen for yourself the barely controlled chaos, yet grace, of Herring's performance. His expressive face is all part of the wonderful package.

1. Sam France of Foxygen. You know that skinny kid in high school who was a bit flamboyant and didn't care about fitting in (but desperately wanted people to love him)? That would be Foxygen singer France, who channeled Jagger — then turned the body volume up to 11. Dressed for most of the set only in slippery-looking leather pants, he demanded attention, at one point saying over and over to some departing listeners, "Where are you going?" The backup singers/dancers, dressed seemingly ironically in polyester, only added to the "I won't be ignored" effect.

@karihow

kari.howard@latimes.com

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