Friday, April 16; Lemmons and Saturday, April 17; Radio Cherokee

During the mid-'90s interregnum between Uncle Tupelo and Nelly, nobody represented St. Louis with more zip, dazzle or pizzazz than Bunnygrunt. Even if they'd never heard any other St. Louis bands, discriminating indie-pop heads from Des Moines to Kyoto knew the 'grunt and knew they were pretty much perfect. Maybe guitarist (and former RFT freelancer) Matt Harnish and drummer Karen Reed (and their various bassists) did create the ultimate musical distillation of cuteness, but they could also startle you with a clanging guitar racket that was about as cuddly as an abscessed molar.

It all started with songs such as "Criminal Boy," "Inanimate Objects" and "Macho Beagle" -- cute, yes, but also energetic, crisp and crammed full of hooks. Charismatic bassist Renee Dullum was replaced by über-scenester Jen Wolfe for 1998's Jen-Fi, but the hits just kept on coming in two-minute splashes of delight such as "AM is for Talkin', FM is for Rockin'." No band in St. Louis could match the band's humor, its charm or its catchy, compact brilliance.

Since Bunnygrunt's sad fizzle-out, Harnish and Reed have played in a Byzantine array of interrelated combos, both together and separately: One, the other, or both have done time in the See-Thrus, the Fantasy Four, Julia Sets, Brown Company and the Mega-Hurts. All of those bands offer abundant pleasures, but here's the news you've been waiting for: Bunnygrunt is back, not for a one-off reunion but as a fully functioning act. The band members will herald their return with a pair of shows this weekend: Friday, April 16, at Lemmons with the Sex Robots and the Ambassadors of Death and Saturday, April 17, at Radio Cherokee with the Mega-Hurts, Femme Fatality and Syntax Error. They're also releasing a twenty-track rarities roundup CD called In the Valley of Lonesome Phil OR 1,000 Bunnygrunt Fans Might Be Wrong. Get there, get the CD, get caught up and get ready to be entertained.