Playboy Manbaby frontman Robbie Pfeffer is no stranger to special events, having launched the inaugural Zona Fest at Hance Park in Downtown Phoenix and curated the PHX FMLY Festival.
“In 2012 and 2013, a friend and I put together this thing called PHX FMLY Fest, which had more than 20 bands on a bunch of different stages, and it was very do-it-yourself,” Pfeffer recalls. “We had no permits; it was not real venues along Fifth Street and I’d never done anything like that.”
He couldn’t stop thinking about the magic he created. Now a decade wiser, Pfeffer spent a year putting together Space Cadet Fest — a 24-band event on Saturday, May 20, at Trunk Space, an intimate music venue inside Phoenix’s Grace Lutheran Church with three stages.
“I feel like I definitely learned a lot of stuff from that first festival and I really learned how much better an event is when you really try to plan out all of the details,” Pfeffer says.
“I’ve done so many shows, I’ve gotten to play on legitimate festivals and now I get to try to incorporate that and try and make it try to make it significantly more enjoyable for everyone than it would have ever been 10 years ago.”
He plans to do this by converting Trunk Space into a set a set resembling one from a classic science fiction TV show.
“I wanted this festival to be themed like a 1950s to 1970s sci-fi movie and I thought it would be interesting if it felt like (the audience was) part of an experience,” Pfeffer said.
He feels Trunk Space is the perfect venue for this.
“The Trunk Space is not only a place that is a very formative place for the particular type of art that we make but it’s also meant to be a place where you discover your voice, expand your voice and try things out.”
An artist by trade, Pfeffer admits that he will need to stockpile loads of tinfoil, cardboard cutouts and arts and crafts to accomplish this task.
He also knew he needed a catchy yet bizarre name that would attract fans to the festival.
“‘Space cadet’ was just a fun, weird phrase and I feel like festivals always have bizarre names like Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza, those are nonsense words,” said the Horizon High School alumnus and Scottsdale native. “I feel like this kind of fits in that vein because a space cadet is someone who’s kind of like off their rocker and this is kind of an off-tilt event where it’s chaotic and crazy.”
Although the event will provide an eclectic melody of myriad sounds, it was important to Pfeffer that each band has ties to the Valley.
“This festival in particular is all bands that we’re excited about that are from Phoenix and are doing something that’s interesting,” Pfeffer said.
Because of this, the lineup includes rising acts like Veronica Everheart, Okinawa Plane Crash, Scottsdale and Glendale-based duo Ring Finger No Pinky, Mesa and Scottsdale underground supergroup Deathdotgov and Scottsdale’s Lilac Cadillac as well as the grand ensemble of the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra. Playboy Manbaby will headline the festival’s outdoor stage.
Pfeffer teased that the Phoenix-born art-rock outfit could bust out songs that the band has never played live. He also hinted that Playboy Manbaby could have new music hitting streets soon.
In the interim, he has remained laser-focused on curating a festival unlike anything in the galaxy and his anticipation for it is sky high.
“I’m legitimately excited about everything,” Pfeffer said. “It’s a thing that an all-ages crowd can really enjoy, but it’s also a celebration of a lot of stuff that happens locally in Phoenix. I hope that people go around to each stage and enjoy all different types of bands — even if they only came knowing a few of them.”
Pfeffer also hopes to host Space Cadet Fest annually.
“I’m hoping it’s the kind of thing that we can do that will be something specifically for Playboy Manbaby,” he said.
“Maybe it’ll be something that we can build (on) each year and also incorporate a bunch of people from the community and make it a way to celebrate local stuff.”
If You Go...
Space Cadet Fest
When: 1 p.m. Saturday, May 20
Where: Trunk Space 1124 N. Third St., Phoenix
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