By Piya Sinha-Roy
INDIO, California (Reuters) - Hip hop duo Outkast reunited for the first time in eight years a the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday, and brought a taste of old school hip hop with them to the stage.
Outkast, formed by Atlanta rappers Andre 3000 and Big Boi, kicked off the anticipated set with "B.O.B" from the duo's 2000 album "Stankonia," before taking it back to the 1990s with singles such as "ATLiens" and "Skew It on the Bar-B."
"It's good to be back," Big Boi, real name Antwan Andre Patton, said on the Coachella stage against the backdrop of the Southern California desert lit up at night.
Outkast last worked together on 2006 album "Idlewild," from which the rappers performed "Vibrate" and "Bowtie."
The duo were joined by soul singer Janelle Monae on the stage as they sang her hit "Tightrope," and then by rapper Future, who rose to fame in the 1990s hip hop scene.
The rappers saved their best for last, bringing out their most mainstream hits "Ms Jackson," "The Way You Move" and "Hey Ya" at the end, before the set was cut short at 1:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. ET), inciting boos from the crowd and apologies from Andre 3000.
The reunion received mixed early reviews from fans at the festival and watching live online, with some complaining that the band's set was not upbeat enough for a headliner, while others praised the rappers for performing their classic songs as well as the mainstream hits.
Ahead of Outkast's headlining set late on Friday, music lovers watched artists such as Ellie Goulding, Grouplove, ZZ Ward and Aloe Blacc perform in the open field of the festival, against the backdrop of the Southern California desert.
Coachella is the first major festival of the summer live music scene, and is often an important stop for an artist on the rise, as the festival has helped launch artists into the U.S. mainstream industry.
Recent success stories include Florence + The Machine, and electronic music DJs Skrillex and Calvin Harris, the latter two both returning this year.
This year, British singer-songwriter Tom Odell made his Coachella debut, playing the Mojave tent on Friday at midday. The singer said being at the festival was an important stop for an artist on the rise.
"It's one of those festivals that's in the back of people's minds," Odell said. "It's something musicians talk about and know about, it's pretty cool to come over here and play, it's definitely significant."
The 23-year-old singer released his debut album "Long Way Down" last year, and has been touring extensively to promote it, hoping that fans will connect to his songs, such as the piano-led ballad "Another Love," after they watch him live.
"It's an energy, I think it's about getting back in the headspace of when you wrote the song, and performing it like that, and putting everything you've got into it, I think that's the most important thing," Odell said about performing live.
Other headlining acts for the three-day weekend are British rockers Muse on Saturday and Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire on Sunday, while notable acts include R&B singer Pharrell and alt-rockers Foster The People and Lana Del Rey.
The festival hosts the same line-up for two consecutive weekends. While Coachella organizers Goldenvoice do not release attendance or ticket figures themselves, more than 158,000 tickets were sold across both weekends last year, according to concert-tracking website Pollstar.com.
(Editing by Robert Birsel and Alison Williams)