Throngs of ecstatic Phish fans (and some unsuspecting tourists) gathered at Sphere on Saturday, April 20th for night three of the band’s monumental four-night run at the new Las Vegas venue. [Read recaps of the rest of the run here: Night 1 | Night 2 | Night 4].

Just as Phish planned it, swirling speculations as to the run’s theme began to coalesce after Friday night’s show, with many starting to suspect the four spheres—lithosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), biosphere (living things), and atmosphere (air). If night one was lithosphere and night two was hydrosphere, that leaves only two themes remaining—biosphere and atmosphere.

As if emerging from the ether, Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman, and Page McConnell once again took the stage while instrumental music played over the PA and launched into the opener as if segueing from the house music—a unique way to start the show and presumably related to the unique four-night production.

“Set Your Soul Free” was the first song and clue of the night. Huge modified images of the band dwarfed their actual bodies and the stage as abstract squiggles filled the rest of the dome. After easing in to night three, Phish dug into “Tube”, the sphere filling with floating bubbles and clouds of sparkling cosmic nebulae, as well as the paper lanterns from night one.

“Stash” was accompanied by more nebulous visuals, but this time, instead of viewing numerous space clouds from afar, the crowd was fully immersed in a nebula’s morphing energy wisps—no living things in sight. As the tune got strange, so did the visuals, changing from smokey purple nebulae to a cascade of green abstract patterns and back again before the solar garlic started to rot. The jam section, more than the visuals, drove home the theme of atmosphere, as the quartet floated between keys and experimented with far-out textures and loops, building tension before settling into a groove and then ultimately returning to the song’s minor key for a strong finish.

During “Pillow Jets”, Phish took fans down a grassy forest path that grew increasingly trippy as the song reached its peak with Trey’s psychedelic guitar solo. Stars twinkled in the sky above, and during the jam, the forest’s trees resembled fireworks as light shot through their branches.

A haze filled the Sphere virtually on the screen and in reality via fog machines as Phish slid into the slinky opening groove of “Steam”. Next the band used the Sphere to transport the crowd to a misty mountain forest for the song “Mountains in the Mist”, which was probably the most literal use of imagery so far, but powerful nonetheless. It showed that not every song needs a 3D rendered design; a simple backdrop can be even more impactful if used skillfully. The band’s jam was calm and expansive like a forest.

A blank black screen at the beginning of “Taste” left crowds anticipating what would appear. The answer was Jim Pollock illustrations from the covers of the Live Phish CD releases, which encircled the Sphere like ancient hieroglyphs.

Phish – “Taste” [Pro-Shot] – 4/20/24

Technicolor versions of the band members graced Sphere during “46 Days”, with each cast upon the dome in a different hue like four Power Rangers or the Ninja Turtles. The song’s natural crescendo ended the first set on a high note, leaving the crowd cheering for more.

By set two, it was pretty clear that if the four elements theory was right, Phish was taking us to the atmosphere. That became all the more obvious as a heavenly layer of clouds billowed around the band as they opened the set with “Sigma Oasis”, with its lyrics about floating to freedom (“You’re finally weightless, so take to the air / Sigma Oasis, you’re already there”). Trees, birds, and sea creatures appeared as cloud forms while Phish flew into the first jam of set two, but they kept it short, swiftly shifting gears into a 29+ minute “Fuego”. Throughout the tune, a spotlight was used to create a red silhouette of the band with effects that made it resemble a devilish inferno.

Phish – “Fuego” [Pro-Shot] – 4/20/24

TV On The Radio‘s “Golden Age” arrived as the first cover of the run accompanied by intense visuals that were like a cross between a space nebula and neural network, and ultimately replaced by circling birds by the end of the jam.

A morphing pattern vaguely resembling the red donuts on Fishman’s dress filled the Sphere as “Golden Age” transitioned into “Twist”. Big balloon-like bubble letters floated up from the stage and filled the dome until the start of a brief improv section, during which the red circles changed color before being replaced by more atmospheric visuals.

A highlight for the Phish nerds arrived next with a rare standalone “I Am Hydrogen”—the song is usually paired with “Weekapaug Groove” and preceded by “Mike’s Song”.

The Sphere sparkled with a shower of twinkling stars as Phish increased the throttle for “Chalk Dust Torture”. The 16-minute version was full of energy at the start before dropping down to a simmer for an experimental jam–the second longest of the set after “Fuego”.

Phish neglected to utilize Sphere’s “smell technology” to show what space smells like during “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”, but the straight-ahead rock tune finished the set on a high note nonetheless as more cosmic imagery (and geometry) swirled overhead.

The grandeur of the Sphere and visuals from show director Abigail Rosen Holmes made for a particularly epic “A Life Beyond The Dream”. The encore then continued as a chaotic swarm of floating cars emerged at the start of “Tweezer Reprise”, apparently free to fly through the atmosphere after being slaves to traffic on night one.

With another mind-bending exsphereience in the books, there’s just one more night left in Phish’s four-night Sphere debut, and with three spheres down, only one remains. Tune in tonight here via LivePhish+ to watch the finale live.

Order your Phish Sphere webcasts here to get in on the action from home. Revisit audio from Phish’s Sphere run—and every Phish show since 2003—with a subscription to the LivePhish+ subscription streaming service. For more information or to subscribe to LivePhish+, head here.

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Setlist: Phish | Shere | Las Vegas | 4/20/24

Set 1: Set Your Soul Free, Tube, Stash, Pillow Jets, Steam, Mountains in the Mist, Taste, 46 Days

Set 2: Sigma Oasis > Fuego > Golden Age (TV On The Radio) -> Twist, I Am Hydrogen > Chalk Dust Torture > Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.

Encorce: A Life Beyond The Dream, Tweezer Reprise