WAIKIKI, Hawaii --
Amps are turned up, the guitarist wows the audience with his quick strumming, the drummer bangs away and the crowd goes wild. It’s not Ozzy, Metallica or ‘insert your favorite band here’ – It’s the Marines.
Musicians with the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Rock Band, wowed the crowd during the Military Band Mele May 29 at the Fort DeRussy Parade Grounds, Waikiki, Hawaii.
“They were totally rockin out,” said Sgt. Christapher Bess, MarForPac Marine and event attendee. “They mixed it up, brought back some of the old school, 80s, 90s and today.”
The event, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, Pacific Band, featured performances by the Hawaii-based Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps bands.
The island’s best military bands performed Pop/ Rock ballads and, unofficially, competed to prove who could rock the hardest.
“It’s just the Marine in us,” said Sgt. Matthew “Animal” Cole, a percussionist with the MarForPac Rock Band. “We gotta go up there and one up everybody.”
In the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, Gunnery Sgt. Clint Walker, supply chief for Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac, who moonlights as a guitarist and singer for the band, took the stage yelling, “Is this loud enough for you?”
With the amps blaring louder than before, the MarForPac Rock Band went to work, surprising the crowd by bringing a Navy singer to the stage to perform Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Paramore’s “That’s What You Get.”
“At first I think they were expecting the same thing they had heard all night but we sold it,” said Staff Sgt. Chazz Harbison, bass guitarist with the band.
With the intro out of the way, the Marines really let loose showing their vocal talents while ripping away with their instruments.
Cole proved his name sake as the drummer unleashed the animal, while the crowd described him as crazy, out of his mind and awesome, many at the same time.
With Walker leading the vocals and Harbison backing him, in some cases taking center stage, the crowd roared in approval as the musicians rocked out to Cars’ “Just What You Needed,” Jets’ “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” and finished with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”
“We were the first band to come off stage sweating,” Harbison said. “This was just awesome.”
Despite the unspoken rivalry between the bands and the crowd’s constant cheering, the band most of all just enjoyed playing the music they love.
“This show was our payment for all the gigs and work we, and especially these guys [band Marines], have put in over the year,” Walker said. “This is our reward and it was a blast.”