Amos Lee was at the Florida Theater Tuesday night. Mike and I were there, 7 rows back; my 7th time seeing him. The first time we saw him was in 2017 at the same theater. Back then, I’m not sure I even knew who he was. My brother had gifted us the tickets saying we had to check this guy out.
Now if you know Amos or have seen Amos, my actions upon leaving that show will not come as a shock to you. The set finished, standing-O ensued, and as I walked up the aisle to leave the theater, I proceeded to hit “purchase album” on iTunes for every. single. Amos. album.
FYI you can stream music for free.
I love Amos Lee.
That first time seeing him, he wore a swanky red velvet blazer. Tuesday, he rocked a cardigan that looked like it belonged to his great, great, great, great grandfather. Mustard yellow with some sort of white design on it. About four songs in he buttoned up the cardigan and that’s when all hell broke loose in the crowd.*
He missed about 3 buttonholes, so there was about a 6-inch difference between the two front panels of his sweater. Mind you, he was buttoning while belting out one of his songs. Not like “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” Mr. Rogers style whose JOB was to put on his sweater and shoes…like legitimately belting out a song like he was there doing his job: giving a concert.
You could hear the chatter all around… “He missed 3 buttons!” “His sweater is uneven!” “Look at his sweater!” “I’m so distracted!” “I can’t stop looking at it!”
He continued on, oblivious because he was in his zone with his band. Then the shouting started. “Sweater buttons!” “Sweater buttons!” People were shouting out song requests and then some were yelling “sweater buttons!”
I could only think that he was thinking, “Do these idiots know where they are? Do they know what songs I sing? I know no “Sweater Button” song!”
In reality, more likely, he was not thinking that at all. He was in the moment. He was on fire on Tuesday–the best I’ve seen him. Riffing, doing his Amos groove dance, bantering with the band, clearly so happy to be back in front of live audiences. As a testament to his presence and setlist, I might have gotten goosebumps 14 times and gotten a little misty three times just from hearing his voice. He was that amazing Tuesday night.
Yet…the cry for “sweater buttons” kept coming out.
Now, I admit that I am the person when sitting in a plane row that will reach over and make sure that all three tray table tabs are perfectly perpendicular to the tray table top. It’s not that the uneven sweater didn’t bug me a bit…I just chose not to focus on it.
There was so much else to take in and the spirit was taking over…why focus on his silly sweater?
The reaction to his sweater got me thinking: how often do we focus on the one “wrong” thing? How often do we find the one thing that we don’t like and that becomes all we see? How often do we become obsessed with correcting a mistake or a glitch or a style that, in the big picture, doesn’t matter at all?
When we are so narrowed in and shouting about that insignificant detail, we deny ourselves taking in the full picture and the good that’s there. We don’t see, hear, or allow ourselves to be part of the full experience that someone brings. When we obsess about that one flaw, mistake, or incident, we ignore the rest of the magic that’s happening around us. We miss the potential, the talent, the contribution, and the perspective that would serve us much better than nitpicking.
Eventually, he DID unbutton the sweater–not because of the yelling, most likely because it was hotter than hell in that theater.
Perhaps there’s a proverbial mismatched button that you are squawking about that you can let be. Let go of that focus on what’s wrong and take in the total experience and listen for the different beats, instruments, melodies, rhythms, and joy that person (or team) can bring.
While I don’t know Amos personally (yet), I think it’s fair to say if he DID know about the button mishap..he would actively not CARE about the button mishap. So why should we?
*All “hell breaking loose” at an Amos Lee concert is like a rumble at a daycare center for babies under one year old…not that hellacious.