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Then & Now: Kilson Street Broadcasts OC Rockstars from Garage to Glory

By Melanie Romero


In 2013, in the boundaries of Orange County, Kilson Street was born. It is by no means an actual street, avenue, or even a drive—and not all to be confused with Kilson Drive in Santa Ana. As coined by its founders, Kilson Street is “‘[t]he World’s BEST live-music-video show you’ve never heard of. Broadcasting from our Garage to yours.’” Founded by co-creators, Modesto Briseño and Richard Bernal, in Modesto’s mom’s garage, Kilson Street was an amateur YouTube channel that spotlit garage bands—penned as “an amateur rock band typically holding its rehearsals in a garage and usually having only a local audience”—in the general Orange County area, most specifically in their stomping grounds of Santa Ana.

Before the launch of Kilson Street, the co-creators kickstarted their love for creativity and music by producing video content for a local business—which was, surprisingly, never released. With their knack for production, they came up with the idea to feature recorded performances by local garage bands, followed by a Q&A; their hope with uploading these interactions to the YouTube atmosphere was to turn the bands into fully-fledged rockstars, as well as to pinpoint the trajectory of music & artistry in the lively city of Santa Ana and its dedication to the art movement.

Even from its humble beginnings, Kilson Street has been unchanged in their mission…and their garage. In their YouTube videos, viewers can catch a glimpse of their iconic garage set-up as the artists perform their tunes; Kilson Street’s cherry-red wall paint and exposed brick, decorated with a life-size standee of Homer Simpson, is an iconic marker of the organization’s beloved garage, once a makeshift home to passerby musicians onto the next stage in their careers. Their essence is very reminiscent of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk concerts, as Kilson Street also highlights pieces of musical memorabilia (from Pink Floyd to The Beatles) and sound & lighting enhancements, followed by a colorful array of instruments. Although Kilson Street may not post as many live performances as it used to, primarily due to the strict restrictions of COVID, their legacy still wafts through the musical streets of Santa Ana…and beyond.

First Image: Diavol Strain, image courtesy of Kilson Street.

Second Image: The Jetties, image courtesy of Kilson Street.

In their YouTube channel, spanning over 10 years now, Kilson Street has featured over 75+ garage bands, from Dali’s Mustache & Hot Whiskey to Los Fauna, Evan Gessman to Radioactive Chicken Heads, and Manhattan Murder Mystery to The Pocket Rockets. Although these are just a few of the many garage bands to grace Kilson Street’s channel, the energy behind every one of the performances found on YouTube is a credit to their ongoing mission. Many of these garage bands have gained recognition, created singles, EPs, and even albums, and continued to advocate for the art movement behind performing in garages. These bands’ success amounts to Kilson Street’s own undertaking; Kilson Street’s mission is literally being a vocal platform to artists far and wide in Southern California, while these garage bands move on to becoming a voice for the creation and duration of this art movement. They can’t forget their roots… It all started in a garage in Santa Ana that has gotten its wings to fly nowhere but up.

First Image: Thee Commons, image courtesy of Kilson Street.

Second Image: STAB, image courtesy of Kilson Street.

Kilson Street plays an immense role in the legacy of Santa Ana, and its participation in LibroMobile’s 6th Anniversary Literary Arts Festival is no exception to their gifted knowledge of all things sound. They will provide sound support for our programming at the Downtown Fullerton Plaza! What’s better than small-business vendors, Drag King storytime, Prose Writers, and all-day DJ spinning to bring us together in a tangled web of culture, art, and music?

So, what’s the next step for Kilson Street? And, who better to ask than Modesto Briseño? Briseño declared: “Kilson Street is still kicking since our years filming bands in our garage for YouTube. We now support our local music scene by producing and backing numerous free live events, including a monthly showcase called ‘Down the Street’ at El Indio Botanas Y Cerveza in Downtown Santa Ana. We also work with the local Non-Profit Art House Theater, the Frida Cinema, every month to feature performers at the Downtown Santa Ana Artwalk every 1st Saturday of the month. Kilson Street’s 10 years of dedication to preserving the local band scene has led to the creation of our sister company, Stanford Sound and Stage, a stage and sound equipment rental business that hires and educates locals on the elements of safe event production. There’s still lots to do and we’re happy to help set the stage for the current and next generation of performers in Santa Ana.”

Down the Street Flyer, image courtesy of Kilson Street.

If you want to catch Kilson Street in action, they will be located at the corner of French y La Cuatro at the Plaza Calle Cuatro Stage at the Downtown Santa Ana Artwalk. Be sure to say hello! And, maybe, you’ll have the chance to become the next OC rockstar.

January 2024 Art Walk, image courtesy of Kilson Street.

If you’d like to see more of Kilson Street, you can catch all the latest, and even previous, band performances that have graced their garage here on YouTube.

And, just in case you’re in the mood to listen to the tunes of Kilson Street’s past performers, you can listen to this self-made Spotify playlist here.

¡Viva Kilson Street!


Melanie Romero is a trilingual writer born and raised in Orange, CA. It was during childhood weekend trips to Randy’s $1-a-book stall at the OC Market Place that she discovered a passion for reading and, eventually, writing. Today, she serves as Editor at Lil’ Libros and has written two children’s books, Amor de colores and J is for Janucá under the publisher. In her free time, she can be found indulging in challah and getting lost among the shelves of independent bookstores.


Starting February 2023, #OffThePage is featuring Melanie Romero as our monthly columnist. Our Arts & Culture column was initially founded by local journalist Gabriel San Román in May 2020. Since then we have collaboratively featured over 25 stories and paid nearly 10 contributors from our community. Pitch Melanie a story or email us for more information!


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