JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

My brother the rock star

February 22nd, 2004 · No Comments

According to a study released by the mayor’s office a few weeks ago, Seattle’s music industry produces $650 million in revenues a year and employs 8,700 people in the city, more than the biotech industry.

Those numbers include my brother who has a day job but at night plays with Spiral. He’s the professional musician of the family. My sister and I received lots of lessons when we were kids, but it’s my brother, a self-taught bass guitarist, who’s playing music for people.

Friday night was the first time Ted and I were able to see him perform. I’d heard him monkey around a bit at home when we were kids but I’d never seen him with a band. Spiral was one of the ones opening for Pyromania at the Showbox, near Pike Place Market.


We’d never been to the Showbox and weren’t prepared to show our ID at the door.

do we look that young?

Inside the guys who took our tickets asked who we had come to see.


They handed us the stubs and stamped our hands: “Keep the stubs. Remember when you were young.”

do we look that old?

The rest of the evening I spent wondering how old I did look. It used to be people told us we looked like kids. But maybe the kids have caught up with us.

Compared to the rest of the crowd I was on average at least a decade ahead of most of the guys and gals clustered around the tables, drinking beer, laughing, dancing.
I thought maybe it was what I was wearing: the fact that I was wearing a coat, a practical black slicker that practically declares “I’m-a-mom-in-my-thirties”, and that I was wearing a wedding ring. Ted thought it was what I wasn’t wearing. Next time perhaps I’ll dress more appropriately. Then again, as I told Ted on the way home, I used to have some outfits like that and something happened to them, they disappeared from my wardrobe once we got married…

I got to see my brother for a moment and hug him before he went back stage. My sister came to the concert too. A family event on a Friday night at First and Pike. Ted and I found a space to stand against a short wall and away from the speakers. Most of the Showbox is open floor, with tables and bars on the sides.

The band started soon after 9. The stage and lighting tested the limits of my camera, or maybe just my photography skills. (For much better photos look at the Spiral site.) Here’s one of the better pictures I caught. My brother is the bassist on the left.


I wrote earlier this week about having a performance persona. It’s one thing to know the performance persona first and then discover who lives behind it. But it’s something else altogether to discover the public sides of people you’ve known privately for years. Like your little brother. Here was the guy I babysat. I taught him the birds and bees. I could even claim to have been his first band experience: years ago we four kids did a Monkees imitation, performing and singing for our parents. And there he was up on stage, wearing leather pants, exotic shirt and hat, rocking the room with his bass guitar. The floor was shaking and he was the reason why.

Daniella the lead singer has been to our home, hanging out with our family, participating in Abigail’s birthday party, making a placemat with pen and stickers. She’s sweet and cute. Up on stage she was dressed in fishnet stockings with furry white go-go boots, pleated black mini-skirt, purple velour shirt, something glittering in her blond hair. She’s got a voice that would sound just as good in gospel as heavy metal and she’s up there posing and strutting along with the lyrics. Clive Thompson’s recent post on lip-synching and dancing comes to mind. It’s clear that Spiral was certainly singing and making their own music – no lip-synching here – but they were also doing drama and dance, putting on a show and makin’ it lively for ya.

The music was loud and pulsing through the floor and walls. Some of the songs sounded new and some I recognized from the demo discs my brother has given us. All the creativity amazed me: the music, lyrics, costumes, dancing…I realized how much my brother and his bandmates have put into their performances.

We had to leave to catch the boat before the last song. The crowd was starting to dance more as we slipped out the door and into the dark.

Reading blogs today I saw that Ariel Meadow Stallings was there too. I had noticed her blog link on Spiral’s site and learned she’s a friend of my brother. She said in her post that Daniella’s dad was also at the Showbox. Wish we could have stayed around. But we needed to get back home for our babysitter.


Can you hear? I said to Ted as we strode towards the ferry dock.
My ears felt a bit dulled. We walked quietly in the cold, hurrying to make it home.
The songs lingered in my mind.

If I close my eyes I can hear Daniella’s voice strong. I see my brother standing on the stage, strumming, smiling. He is happy. My brother the bassist.

Tags: music