If U2 gave the world a taste of the spectacle that is the Sphere during their recent venue-opening residency, Phish utilized every ingredient in the Las Vegas venue’s hi-tech cupboard for an ultimate feast of the senses.

On Thursday night, Phish made its Sphere debut — the first of a four-night stand — in a city where the Vermont quartet has long produced elaborate, highly anticipated shows for Halloween.

You can see photos, the full set list and 40 minutes of the band’s own professionally-shot video from the show below.

The element of surprise of those Halloween shows is usually what songs — or, rather, full-album covers — the band will perform. But for four hours on Thursday, fans seemed less excited about what Phish would play than what onscreen artistry — often blown up to fill the enormous 160,000-square-foot interior screen — would complement each song.

Make no mistake: Those visuals — as well as the clarity and surround-sound wizardry of the Sphere’s innovative speaker system, as well as the multi-sensory technology and haptic seat vibrations further immersing the 20,000 attendees — were the star of the show.

However, music remained the core of the show given how those aforementioned effects were triggered in real time according to what the band crafted onstage. As the musicians changed tempos, segued from one passage to another, and worked their arrangements up to a climax, the creative masterminds of collaborating multimedia production company Moment Factory — along with longtime band lighting designer Chris Kuroda — adjusted their content accordingly.

The band, for its part, never seemed distracted or tripped up by the bombardment of graphics above them. Guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio even suggested that the overhead displays were so inspiring that the crowd needed to see it from his vantage point onstage.

Watch Phish’s April 18 Set One Opener

Phish and U2 used the Sphere bells and whistles in noticeably different ways. For one, the improvisation the Moment Factory pulled off in reaction to Phish’s often-unpredictable jams was not possible for U2, whose arrangements were fixed for the length of its 40-date residency, The Irish band also relied on video and computerized facsimiles of familiar objects for its visual content; Phish used those less so, balancing them with generous incorporation of abstract, impressionistic graphics. And where U2 was very comfortable blowing itself up onto the screen to make its performance much more visible, Phish would tweak, even obfuscate whatever footage of its members it did project.

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Most noticeably, U2 didn’t include the venue’s haptic chair technology or atmospheric (see: wind) effects. Phish, on the other hand, occasionally channeled Mike Gordon’s deep bass grooves through those 17,600 seats and changed the temperature of the Sphere as daytime screen vistas transitioned into nighttime ones.

The band has promised to make each Vegas show completely distinct from the others, both in the set lists and on the screen.

As for Thursday’s set list, Phish stuck largely to older material despite a forthcoming new album, Evolve (due July 12). A 90-minute first set felt much like a warm-up, punctuated by two songs Phish has favored during its Halloween-run shows, “Wolfman’s Brother” and “Carini.”

The 100-minute second set, by contrast, was stacked with bangers and fan favorites like “Sand,” “Tweezer,” “Mike’s Song” and “Fluffhead.” The encore closed with “Run Like an Antelope,” where Phish once again pulled out all the stops, onstage and off.

Dead and Company Will Perform at the Sphere Next

Each of Phish’s four Sphere shows will be available to live stream exclusively at LivePhish.com. The band will spend much of the summer performing multiple-night stands at amphitheaters across America. Their latest tour and ticket information can be found at Phish.com.

Dead & Company are set to begin a two-month long residency at the Sphere on May 16. They’ll perform three shows each weekend, with the last currently scheduled for July 13. The New York Post reported that Eagles are expected to begin a three-month long residency at the Sphere in September, but the band has not confirmed that news.

Phish at the Sphere: Opening Night Photos

The jam rock legends begin their four-night stand at the groundbreaking new venue.

Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening

Watch Phish’s April 18 Set 2 Opener

Phish, Las Vegas Sphere, April 18 2024 Set List

1. “Everything’s Right”
2. “Back on the Train”
3. “Wolfman’s Brother”
4. “Maze”
5. “Leaves”
6. “Live Saving Gun”
7. “Dirt”
8. “Carini”
9. “Sand”
10. “Tweezer”
11. “My Friend, My Friend”
12. “Mike’s Song”
13. “Lifeboy”
14. “Weekapaug Groove”
15. “Blaze On”
16. “Fluffhead”
17. “Farmhouse”
18. “Run Like an Antelope”

Mike Prevatt is a producer and writer for Nevada Public Radio in Las Vegas.