Despite poor weather conditions leading up to kickoff, an impressive crowd of 29,976 fans filled The Rock on Saturday night for Southern Miss’ home opener against Jackson State. This opening game marks just the third meeting between the two programs.
Though Southern Miss jumped out to a large lead in the first half of play, a vast majority of those fans remained in their seats, anxiously awaiting the contests that were set to take place at after the game between two of the South’s most renowned music programs: Southern Miss’ Pride of Mississippi Marching Band, and Jackson State’s “Sonic Boom of the South” Marching Band.
The Sonic Boom, led by interim director Dowell Taylor, is traditionally one of the largest and most popular marching bands in the state. They’re led by five drum majors, known as the “Jackson Five,” and have recently been referenced to by the likes of Time Magazine, Motown Records, and hip hop artist Drake.
Southern Miss’ Pride of Mississippi Marching Band has quite the history as well. The band performed at the inauguration ceremonies for both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Jimmy Carter. In the 1980s they were listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most televised marching band. Most recently, The Pride competed in the Limerick International Band Championships in Dublin, Ireland, and was awarded “Best Band Overall.”
The bands entertained the crowd at halftime with shows featuring well-known tunes. The Pride performed hits by different generations of iconic pop bands, such as “Everybody” and “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. The Sonic Boom followed that performance with a list of hits including the Spice Girls’ hit “Say You’ll Be There,” Ariana Grande’s new single “No Tears Left to Cry,” and “In My Feelings” by Drake.
Following the end of the 55-7 victory for the Golden Eagles, fans stuck around to see the bands have a little fun with each other in head-to-head competition. Each group played through a number of songs from their halftime show along with a couple of other tunes, and for each there was a song in response by the other band. The Pride’s “Tennessee Waltz” was matched by the Sonic Boom’s rendition of the famous Lion King tune, “Circle of Life.”
Lastly, the two bands’ drum lines met at the 50-yard line to hash it out in a drum battle. Each unit played three cadences before applauding and respectfully shaking hands to congratulate one another for their performance over the course of the evening. The event proved yet again that there is much more to Saturdays at The Rock than just football.