Bunnygrunt turns eighteen this month. If the band were a person, it would be just about ready to graduate from high school. It would be able to join the military, vote, get married and buy cigarettes but would still have to use its fake ID to sneak into bars. Or perhaps it would just go away to college and drink away its first semester.
To commemorate this milestone, singer/guitarist Matt Harnish has provided his list of favorite shows from each year of the band's existence. Before we get to that, however, it's worth reflecting on how this band lasted last while others did not.
One answer: by working bloody hard and getting the word out to anyone who might be interested. From their first seven-inch single, 1994's "Criminal Boy"/"GI2K," Harnish, bassist Karen Ried and their ever-changing lineup of bassists plugged themselves into an international network of fanzines, college radio stations and pop enthusiasts. Almost from the beginning, the band toured frequently, gave countless mail interviews and aligned with like-minded bands such as Tullycraft and Cars Can Be Blue. Bunnygrunt's first New York City show was at Brownies in front of ten people — but each of those attendees brought friends next time. Eventually, pockets of fans developed. Now the band pulls a bigger crowd in Athens, Georgia, or Seattle than in St. Louis. It's even played Japan.
Bunnygrunt has also figured out the rare trick of being in a working band without hating each other. It's taken time off to work on projects with local friends, and the band's figured out how much touring it can take without going insane. And finally, Bunnygrunt has learned how to keep the experience fresh and exciting. Just check out Matt's list. Whether playing the boardwalk on Coney Island, rocking an Indiana high school in front of half a dozen Juggalos or bringing touring friends such as the Smittens and Poison Control Center to St. Louis, Bunnygrunt has kept it interesting for itself and its fans. All that's left to do is celebrate its longevity and wait for the midlife crisis show in 2030.
Editor's Note: Bunnygrunt was set to open for legendary garage-elders the Fleshtones at Off Broadway this weekend but had to drop off the bill late last week because drummer Eric Von Damage injured his hand and had to have surgery. He'll be OK, but he's not able to play drums for a bit. The Fleshtones' show is still on for Saturday; find information at www.offbroadwaystl.com.
1993: August 18, Show No. 7, Wabash Triangle Cafe. We set up a show for the awesome and inspiring D.C. band Tsunami. A bunch of St. Louis folks saw us for the first time, and the Tsunami contact opened a lot of doors for us nationwide.
1994: July 25, Show No. 55, Cup of J, in Pomona, California. A week after our triumphant coming-out party at the Yo-Yo-A-Go-Go Fest in Olympia, Washington. Every person from the Los Angeles area who'd been at the festival came and brought all their friends to this little strip-mall coffee shop. The most we probably ever felt like we were in the center of a "buzz."
1995: February 16, Show No. 89, the Rendon Inn in New Orleans, Louisiana. A spectacular disaster of an "industry" showcase, a fight with Lou Barlow, a better show than it had any right to be.
1996: September 19, Show No. 189, the Landfill in Athens, Georgia. The show Michael Stipe came to see us.
1997: November 14, Show No. 245, Kardyhm's house, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. A house party crammed with pretty much everyone who was anyone in the mid-to-late-'90s East Coast Indie Pop Intelligentsia. And being the pot-stirrers we were, we unleashed the ferocious Darling Little Jackhammer on them, too.
1998: December 14, Show No. 291, Velvet Sound in Shizuoka, Japan. The whole Japanese tour was insane, but this show was the insane-est, full of screaming, flailing Japanese garage-rock fans and the super-cool bands Kabochack, Fire Starter and Estrella 20/20.
1999-2002: The Hiatus Years. Karen was in the See-Thrus, Thee Noble Gases UK, the Fantasy Four and Brown Company. Matt was in the See-Thrus, Sullen, Julia Sets and Brown Company.
2003: November 26, Show No. 293, Smokin' Baby Studios. Our first show back! A house party coinciding with Bad Santa's debut screening.
2004: June 14, Show No. 301, CBGB. With the wonderful Octopus Project, the first of what became a long list of great Bunnygrunt shows at CBGB.
2005: July 3, Show No. 320, Thee Olde School House Rocks in Durango, Colorado. On our way to our first West Coast tour in years, playing with our ridiculous Denver friends the Maybellines in a cool little town in the middle of nowhere where the kids are starved for live entertainment, followed by an all-night after-party at some crazy millionaire snowboarder dude's house.
2006: August 7, Show No. 353, CBGB. With Iowa crash-poppers Poison Control Center and Vermont sweeties the Smittens, the most balls-out insane of what was a long list of balls-out insane Bunnygrunt shows at CBGB.
2007: May 26, Show No. 386, Astroland in New York City. An afternoon showcase during a New York Popfest, with the Atlantic Ocean in front of us and the rollercoasters of Coney Island behind us, we played our hearts out to tons of friendly faces and confused passersby.
2008: September 13, Show No. 439, Mt. Vernon High School, Fortville, Indiana. A post-football-game show at Matt's nephew's high school. Everybody went to the cool party, leaving us to play to six young Juggalos...who loved us!
2009: June 7, Show No. 476, the Delmar Restaurant & Lounge. The infamous "Karen is dead" show, which was part of the RFT Music Showcase. Eric Von Damage was the only actual member of Bunnygrunt still onstage playing by the end of the set.
2010: April 5, 12, 19, 26, Shows No. 506, 507, 510, 511, the Wedge. The monthlong residency where we debuted a bunch of new songs in the insane secret clubhouse of Johnny Vegas' playground brain.
Editor's Note: This piece was updated on March 9 to reflect the correct name of Bunnygrunt's first release.