A few weeks ago, I was out in LA for a handful of meetings and had the good fortune of being in town at the same time as my friends, The Lone Bellow. They had a show at the Hotel Cafe the night I was scheduled to arrive, so I reached out to Zach and asked if they'd be up for trying out a one-take.
I sent them a frame from John Mayer's "Where the Light Is" documentary, directed by Danny Clinch. In the opening sequence, John is playing an electric guitar up in the Hollywood Hills. It's a really iconic image, one that, somehow manages to frame LA in a romantic way. I thought that a performance of Tree to Grow overlooking LA would create an atmosphere that would be a perfect fit for the song and for the band, given all that is happening to them at this point.
I called my buddy, Daley Hake, to see if he could help me find a location as well as come take photographs. He found a great spot not even fifteen minutes from the venue and we were all set. The band would soundcheck at 430pm, we'd jump in the car by 5:15pm, shoot from 5:45pm-6:15pm when it got dark.
Yeah, not so much.
As is always the case with an operation with this many moving pieces, things ran a bit behind. Soundcheck was the priority, for sure, and it went a little long. Long enough that I had to decide whether or not to even try and go up the hill. We could always find a corner of the venue and shoot something there. Daley and I deliberated, checked our sun apps to see when the sun was going to be gone, gone. It would be a race, but we decided to pull the trigger.
We drove like mad, up the hill, found parking, as I literally sprinted up the hill ahead of everyone to find a spot. The sun had already dipped behind the hills and was fading quickly. Drop the gear, power up, audio check, all good? Great. Roll cameras please.
What you see is what we got. The sun was all but gone when we cut.
In the rush to get up the hill, to try and capture something before it got dark, to try and squeeze something into a very narrow window of time, the beauty of our location had somehow escaped me. The band stopped playing and we all turn and look out over LA and we just soak it in. It was beautiful. It was quiet and still. The lights were beginning to twinkle below. It was LA at its best, a moment worth the hustle, in the perfect setting with the perfect soundtrack.
Music by: Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, Kanene Pipkin / Directed by: Ryan Booth / Audio recorded by: Chris Pereira & Julie Belle / Mixed & Mastered by: Daniel Karr / Photography by: Daley Hake / Titles by: Tyler Swanner / Special Thanks to: Beth Narducci, Jay Snider, Gia Hughes, and The Hotel Cafe