Photos: Chinatown Summer Nights, with Lauren Ruth Ward, Color Caves, YIP YOPS and more

Lauren Ruth Ward at Chinatown Summer Nights (Photo by Jessica Hanley)
Lauren Ruth Ward at Chinatown Summer Nights (Photo by Jessica Hanley)

Chinatown Summer Nights kicked off its 2017 season in a big way Saturday, with never-a-dull-moment performances on the LA Weekly Live Music Stage — in its new location, at Mandarin Plaza — and equally big crowds in and around Central Plaza for KCRW DJs Jason Bentley and Aaron Byrd and other festivities.

Fronting her tight four-piece, Lauren Ruth Ward delivered a sizzling performance that ended with the singer frolicking through the crowd during “Well, Hell,” the title track to her forthcoming album. Ward was followed by the coming-out party for swaggering rockers Color Caves, the new quartet masterminded by singer Django Stewart (ex-Nightmare & the Cat) and drummer Dash Hutton (ex-Haim). That, too, was quite a show.

Earlier, Coachella Valley quartet YIP YOPS — three of their four members still in their teens — ripped through a set of infectious synth-rock, with frontman Ison Van Winkle going off like a confetti cannon. Speaking of confetti cannons, there were some of those earlier while Long Beach’s Bobby Blunders laid down some Family Stone-like grooves.

They were preceded by Liv Slingerland, whose quartet played songs from her forthcoming EP and detoured into some vintage blues, with the frontwoman displaying some formidable chops. Livingmore’s infectious folk-rock, carried by Alex Moore’s vocals, was pretty as the view overlooking L.A. State Historic Park. And Lovers & Poets kicked off the breezy evening with a set perfect for romance, and, appropriately, their single “You + Me in the Summertime.”

Chinatown Summer Nights continues Aug. 5. The lineup for the Live Music Stage, which is curated by Buzz Bands LA, will be announced this week. Garth Trinidad and Jeremy Sole will spin on the KCRW DJ stage.

Photos by Jessica Hanley