The band touch

By 6:50 a.m. Saturday morning, Lilly Needleman is raring to go – and not because she had gotten enough sleep the night before.

The GW sophomore only closes her eyes after she finally finishes dividing up a hefty bag of Skittles into its component colors: red, orange, yellow, green and purple. She had spent hours Friday tracking down the goods to feed the Bloodhound Gang, the musical headliner at Program Board’s Spring Fling the next day. Several hundred dollars later, this sustenance included a pound of butter, one onion, mints, lemons and limes, a deli tray with pounds of sliced turkey, a box of Muslix, a half a dozen cases of soda and enough junk food to feed a starving army of teenaged boys. A few items, such as hot dogs in a jar and Indian tonic water – both available only in the United Kingdom – proved elusive, but Needleman was more than thorough. Even a small mistake could mean a crabby band, she explains, and big headaches for her.

If they don’t get what they want, anything could happen, she says. Though she has no official title in the PB structure, Needleman usually handles one of the most important elements of the organization’s events: keeping the talent happy.

Despite the glamorous sound of it, the job is an exercise in creativity and patience. In the course of one day, various band members and professional crew will accost her with amazing requests. Money for alcohol, permission to smoke in the Smith Center (a health facility), a new microwave tray to replace the one they busted on the bus and an emergency load of laundry that absolutely must be done within the hour.

Prostitutes and guns too if you can manage it, says the sarcastic British tour manager. This is his favorite joke.

After five shows in two years, Needleman is a pro at organizing her PB volunteers, negotiating with talent management and most importantly dealing with the stars themselves. Their needs can be exacting (? la the sorted Skittles), and she encourages her crew to be wary of this. As the first group of PB volunteers makes its way over to the Smith Center, where the band’s food will be arranged in the conference room, Needleman calls to them.

If you feel like setting it up alphabetically, go for it, she says seriously. Apparently, one of (the band members) likes it like that.

At 7:10 a.m., two enormous tour buses parked on H Street and Needleman is thrown for a loop. They weren’t supposed to arrive for another two hours. With nothing ready for them in the hospitality area, she briefly consults the bus drivers, who inform her the Gang and company will be asleep for a while longer. Even so, other members of the team begin to emerge looking hungry and not a little bit grimy.

In a flash, Needleman is burning up the walkie-talkie, begging for the food and laundry supplies from anyone who was free to carry them out to the Smith Center. Of course, she grabbed the only non-functioning walkie, and there is no answer. She switches to the cell phone buried in her purple backpack and mutters under her breath, I hate the Bloodhound Gang.

As she and a few intrepid crewmembers frantically arrange fruit and hamburger buns on plastic trays, Needleman keeps the mood light but anticipate the worst. She knows the accommodations are not what the band requested. There would be no smoking or drinking allowed, only one room (instead of two) and a public shower where a helpful Smith Center student manager informed her, patrons could walk right in while the band was sudsing up. On top of that there isn’t a spoon or bowl in sight for the cereal and the ice tea – gasp – is sweetened.

Oh well, Needleman says. I’m hoping they are nice.

The Bloodhound Gang, a five member pop-punk band whose hit The Bad Touch implores listeners to have animalistic sex like they do on the Discovery Channel are roused from sleep at 10:50. Needleman organizes interviews with an enthusiastic GW corps for 11:45, but the boys take more than an hour to get cleaned up and functioning. They are grumbling but kind. Needleman is strict with them, marching after people with names such as Q-ball and Lupus to make sure the show would start nearly on time and the press would get a few good minutes with them.

By the time they finally take the stage, they were licking and hugging her. They are happy, and she watches from the side with an enormous grin.

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