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Here’s how Phish is using the Sphere's technology to give fans something completely different

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Here’s how Phish is using the Sphere's technology to give fans something completely different
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Here’s how Phish is using the Sphere's technology to give fans something completely different

2024-04-20 06:38 Last Updated At:06:50

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Phish opened its four-night stay at the Sphere Thursday with a four-hour show that used the advanced technology in the $2.3 billion arena to deliver a show that even the band's most ardent fans have never experienced before.

“We came in really wanting to do a show that was a great Phish show,” said Abigail Rosen Holmes, who is running the visual show. She said the band and its creative team wanted to mix the Sphere’s technical capabilities and consider “what can we do for Phish that we maybe couldn’t do for any other artist?”

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This image shows one of the individual screens at the Sphere and the hundreds of light nodes it contains on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. The screen at the Sphere is 160,000 square feet and shows images and video in 16K x 16K resolution. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Phish opened its four-night stay at the Sphere Thursday with a four-hour show that used the advanced technology in the $2.3 billion arena to deliver a show that even the band's most ardent fans have never experienced before.

This image shows the exterior of the Sphere on Thursday, April 18, in Las Vegas. The light displays on the exopshere are created with 1.2 million individual lights, each of which can show more than a billion colors. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

This image shows the exterior of the Sphere on Thursday, April 18, in Las Vegas. The light displays on the exopshere are created with 1.2 million individual lights, each of which can show more than a billion colors. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearses before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearses before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Page McConnell, keyboardist for the band Phish rehearses before the group's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Page McConnell, keyboardist for the band Phish rehearses before the group's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Wires run between sections of light on one of the individual screens behind the stage of the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

Wires run between sections of light on one of the individual screens behind the stage of the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

Keyboardist Page McConnell, left, and Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearse before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Keyboardist Page McConnell, left, and Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearse before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The exterior of the Sphere is pictured on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. The band Phish started its four-night residency on Thursday. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

The exterior of the Sphere is pictured on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. The band Phish started its four-night residency on Thursday. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

Here’s how Phish is creating a set of shows that even fans who’ve seen the band perform hundreds of times won’t have experienced before.

While Phish shows usually get their visual punch from lighting guru Chris Kuroda’s massive lighting rig, these shows are completely different as the band uses custom visuals on the 160,000-square foot 16K-by-16K LED screen.

Three-dimensional blue bars moving and spinning in time and growing to meet beams of light falling from the ceiling. Live video of the band playing, cut into pieces. A wall of psychedelic-colored cars blinking their lights with a long improvisational jam. Easter eggs from Phish’s history — like the vacuum cleaner drummer Jon Fishman sometimes plays — falling from the ceiling. A naturescape that then morphs into a fantasy world.

Holmes sits in the center of the arena controlling the visuals in real-time, mixing the elements created with Montreal-based entertainment studio Moment Factory to match the band’s performance.

Kuroda sits beside her, using six light towers behind the stage plus spotlights to find the right moments to bring people back to the band on stage.

Toward the end of Thursday night’s show, Kuroda started to spotlight individual members of the band, sending a simple black silhouette onto the wall. The silhouette then burst into a reddened field of 20 silhouettes throughout the arena.

There are 1,600 permanent speakers, along with 300 mobile speaker modules, that use a 3D audio beamforming and wave field synthesis technology to spread sound throughout the venue. The system allows for individual instruments to be heard from different parts of the arena. “It’s like pinpoints of sound and thousands and thousands of them,” says Phish’s Trey Anastasio.

There are 17,500 seats inside the Sphere, every one of which will be filled with a Phish fan this week, along with about 2,500 standing on the floor. The seats use haptic technology, so every bass line and drum kick from the band can be felt from your chair — for those actually sitting and not standing up and dancing.

U2 performed 40 shows to open the Sphere. Phish sold out its four shows this week within minutes and considered doing more, but decided they wanted to create four unique visual and music experiences to match the band’s history of never repeating the same show twice.

“I don’t know that we could have done it any other way,” said Page McConnell, Phish’s piano/organ/keyboard player. “We do it for us. We do it for the audience. It keeps it interesting for us and it keeps it interesting for them. And it’s what people like about us.”

There are 1.2 million LED “pucks” that make up the 580,000-square feet exosphere, each of which can display more than 1 billion colors. The display has become an instant tourist attraction in Las Vegas, seen from hotel rooms around the Strip and from planes above. It cycles through various funky visuals, including a giant yellow blinking smiley face and a furry creature. This week it includes a digital billboard for Phish.

This image shows one of the individual screens at the Sphere and the hundreds of light nodes it contains on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. The screen at the Sphere is 160,000 square feet and shows images and video in 16K x 16K resolution. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

This image shows one of the individual screens at the Sphere and the hundreds of light nodes it contains on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. The screen at the Sphere is 160,000 square feet and shows images and video in 16K x 16K resolution. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

This image shows the exterior of the Sphere on Thursday, April 18, in Las Vegas. The light displays on the exopshere are created with 1.2 million individual lights, each of which can show more than a billion colors. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

This image shows the exterior of the Sphere on Thursday, April 18, in Las Vegas. The light displays on the exopshere are created with 1.2 million individual lights, each of which can show more than a billion colors. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearses before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearses before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The group Phish rehearses before the band's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Abigail Rosen Holmes, show director and co-creative director for the band Phish's upcoming show at the Sphere, works in the control booth during rehearsals on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Page McConnell, keyboardist for the band Phish rehearses before the group's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Page McConnell, keyboardist for the band Phish rehearses before the group's four night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Wires run between sections of light on one of the individual screens behind the stage of the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

Wires run between sections of light on one of the individual screens behind the stage of the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

Keyboardist Page McConnell, left, and Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearse before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Keyboardist Page McConnell, left, and Trey Anastasio, guitarist and singer-songwriter of the band Phish, rehearse before the group's four-night engagement at the Sphere on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

The exterior of the Sphere is pictured on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. The band Phish started its four-night residency on Thursday. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

The exterior of the Sphere is pictured on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. The band Phish started its four-night residency on Thursday. (AP Photo/Josh Cornfield)

The Navajo Nation Council has signed off on a proposed settlement that would ensure water rights for its tribe and two others in the drought-stricken Southwest -- a deal that could become the most expensive enacted by Congress.

The Navajo Nation has one of the largest single outstanding claims in the Colorado River basin. Delegates acknowledged the gravity of their vote Thursday and stood to applause after casting a unanimous vote. Many noted that the effort to secure water deliveries for tribal communities has spanned generations.

Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley and other officials stood outside the chamber in Window Rock, Arizona, under a clear blue sky as the wind whipped. She recalled learning about the fight over water rights in school when she was a girl.

Momentous is how she described the day, before she put her pen to the legislation and nearby vehicles honked their horns in celebration.

“This is an opportunity to think 100 years ahead for our children,” said Curley, a mother and soon-to-be grandmother.

“The time is now and we have to make our footing for the future," she continued.

The San Juan Southern Paiute Tribal Council also voted to approve the settlement Thursday, while the Hopi tribe approved it earlier this week. Congress will have the final say.

Congress has enacted nearly three dozen tribal water rights settlements across the U.S. over the last four decades and federal negotiation teams are working on another 22 agreements involving dozens of tribes. In this case, the Navajo, Hopi and San Juan Southern Paiute tribes are seeking more than $5 billion as part of their settlement.

About $1.75 billion of that would fund a pipeline from Lake Powell, one of the two largest reservoirs in the Colorado River system, on the Arizona-Utah border. The settlement would require the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to complete the project by the end of 2040.

From there, water would be delivered to dozens of tribal communities in remote areas.

Nearly a third of homes in the Navajo Nation — spanning 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — don’t have running water. Many homes on Hopi lands are similarly situated.

Navajo President Buu Nygren plans to sign the settlement legislation as soon as it hits his desk, likely Friday. He told The Associated Press it had been a long road to get everyone to the table and the next step will be knocking on the doors of Congress.

A century ago, tribes were left out of a landmark 1922 agreement that divided the Colorado River basin water among seven Western states. Now, the tribes are seeking water from a mix of sources: the Colorado River, the Little Colorado River, aquifers and washes on tribal lands in northeastern Arizona.

The latest settlement talks were driven in part by worsening impacts from climate change and demands on the river like those that have allowed Phoenix, Las Vegas and other desert cities to thrive. The Navajo, Hopi and San Juan Southern Paiute tribes are hoping to close the deal quickly under a Democratic administration in Arizona and with Joe Biden as president.

Without a settlement, the tribes would be at the mercy of courts. Already, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government is not bound by treaties with the Navajo Nation to secure water for the tribe. Navajo has the largest land base of any of the 574 federally recognized tribes and is second in population with more than 400,000 citizens.

A separate case that has played out over decades in Arizona over the Little Colorado River basin likely will result in far less water than the Navajo Nation says it needs because the tribe has to prove it has historically used the water. That’s hard to do when the tribe hasn’t had access to much of it, Navajo Attorney General Ethel Branch has said.

Arizona — situated in the Colorado River’s Lower Basin with California, Nevada and Mexico — is unique in that it also has an allocation in the Upper Basin. The state would get certainty in the amount of water available as it’s forced to cut back as the overall supply diminishes.

Navajo and Hopi, like other Arizona tribes, could be part of that solution if they secure the right to lease water within the state that could be delivered through a canal system that already serves metropolitan Tucson and Phoenix.

Arizona water officials have said the leasing authority is a key component of the settlement.

FILE - Low water levels at Wahweap Bay at Lake Powell along the Upper Colorado River Basin are pictured, June 9, 2021, at the Utah and Arizona border at Wahweap, Ariz. In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE - Low water levels at Wahweap Bay at Lake Powell along the Upper Colorado River Basin are pictured, June 9, 2021, at the Utah and Arizona border at Wahweap, Ariz. In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE - A windmill draws water for livestock in Leupp, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, Saturday, March 9, 2024. In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca, File)

FILE - A windmill draws water for livestock in Leupp, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, Saturday, March 9, 2024. In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca, File)

FILE - A windmill draws water for livestock in Leupp, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, Saturday, March 9, 2024. In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca, File)

FILE - A windmill draws water for livestock in Leupp, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, Saturday, March 9, 2024. In a vote on Thursday, May 23, 2024, the Navajo Nation Council has unanimously approved a proposed water rights settlement that carries a price tag larger than any such agreement enacted by Congress. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca, File)

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