So Stupendous…

Does anyone in the scene not love “Tube?” If such a person exists, I have yet to meet them. A former four-minute rarity between the years of ’93-’96, “Tube” was busted out in more ways than one at Dayton’s Nutter Center in December of ’97. A song that always contained small portions of incredibly dancy and hard-hitting grooves, one could never get enough of the elusive favorite. But that night in Dayton changed everything.

508836745_2e13da97e8It was on December 7, 1997, that Phish discovered how perfectly congruent the song was to their new jamming style, and as the band tore through the patient rhythms that typified Fall ’97, they rediscovered the song and found its new potential for improv.  In fact, they liked what they heard so much, they decided to hop right back into the jam when the song ended, improvising off the funked-out theme by slowly blending melodies into the mix, reaching a transition to a majestic set-ending “Slave.” The band clearly enjoyed their new vehicle, revisiting the song twice more that month – once later that tour at Albany and the other time being the pimp-daddy version on 12.29.97 at MSG. But over the next three years “Tube” would become a regular occurrence at Phish shows for the first time since the early ’90s. And this time around, it was a whole new ballgame.

Everyone knows about the popular “Tubes” – Dayton ’97, MSG ’97, Nassau ’98, Gorge ’98, Hershey ’00, Miami ’03, Deer Creek ’04 – but what about some more obscure versions of this dance anthem? Transforming the song into a musical launchpad during late-’97, Phish would go on to play 31 tubes by the end of ’03, most of the extended variety. Here are five of lesser known, yet still stupendous, versions to check out.

7.29.98 II Riverport Amphitheatre Maryland Heights, MO

dscf0002Coming deep in the second set of this unique and outstanding show, this “Tube” has lived in the shadows of the monster “Gin” and “Buried Alive” in the same show.  If the “new” “Tube” was born during Fall ’97, the jam came of age in the Summer of ’98, moving in more directions than ever before.  This version features outstanding lead playing by Trey, coupled with passages of quintessential ’98 wah-grooves.  Mike let loose interesting bass patterns throughout the entire jam, providing a dynamism to the music that you don’t hear out of every “Tube.”  Locked in and oozing uptempo summer dance grooves, Phish provided a chunky late set highlight that absolutely raged.



11.2.98 I E Centre, West Valley, UT

This colossal “Tube” opened the usually overlooked first set to “The Dark Side Show.”  Many forget anything else even happened that night in Utah, but in fact the entire show was filled with blistering Phish, including this raucous fifteen-minute 510920898_5f88668239“Tube.”  Trey set up a palette of loops and effects at the beginning of the jam while Fish led a sparse groove with an urgent beat and shimmering cymbal work.  This opener is faster than many “Tubes” of ’98, unleashing a fury of dance rhythms at us.  Amidst this high-speed chase, the band allowed for bits of melodic release, a la Gorge ’98, while they continued to chug along. Trey moved in and out of lead melodies and funk rhythms fluently as this jam grew quickly.

Upon the conclusion of the song, the band was so amped about how the show had started, they leapt right back into the “Tube” jam a la Dayton ’97.  Splashing back into the fast-paced jam, Trey and Page immediately took it into darker, spacier territory as Fish responded by switching up the beat underneath.  The band entered a period of improv that digressed from the typical Phish-funk of “Tube.”  Trey played some leads that took the jam further down this divergent path, soon hinting at the chord progression of “Drowned,” foreshadowing their upcoming transition.  The music became increasingly nasty and sublime simultaneously before Trey peaked the jam with some “First Tube”-esque searing walls of sound.  Without missing a beat, the entire band smashed directly into into the beginning of “Drowned.”



9.28.99 I Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Pelham, AL

508787037_b7ab1319a8After a long rainy day in a lot that, at best, boasted outdoor Kentucky Blueberry, fans were greeted by the thick triumvirate of “Wolfman’s,” “Sneakin’ Sally,” “Tube” to open the show.  Bursting with dance-candy, Phish treated the crowd to slowed-down experiment in “Tube.”  Utilizing the open-air structure of the amphitheatre, the band laid way back, playing less notes and allowing them to bellow over the crowd with emphasis.  This was the type of music you felt like you were in.  The initial part of the jam saw Trey and Page focus more on sculpting a soundscape than playing melody.  Instead, Mike takes over the melodic lead, providing an improvised series of bouncing Gordeaux bass lines.  Trey adds in some very ’99 style effects, allowing some seething sounds to emerge from his guitar.  Towards the end of the jam, Big Red finally adds some hard rhythm playing for all the Trey-crack addicts in the crowd.



12.13.99 I Providence Civic Center, RI

atl51This “Tube” fittingly opened a show that was squarely focused on groove the entire evening.  Phish cannonballed into this show with high-energy dance grooves that popped off the stage.  Trey sat back, set up his loops and effects and subtly accented the band’s pattens while Mike and Page stepped forward.  Following a drum fill, Trey comes flying into the jam off of a tornado slide with his “Joker” tone, as if he is actually laughing through his guitar.  Taking center stage, he absolutely shred apart the entire rest of the jam as the venue raged along.  The whole band decided to come out firing with enthusiasm on this night, creating a veritable fest of groove.



9.22.2000 II Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

9.22.00 Rosemont

9.22.00 Rosemont

Page, Mike and Fish carried the early portion of this succinct second set opening version. Trey played in the background of this deep groove moreso than most, yet would emerge more prominently as the version progressed.  This rendition, typical of many ’99 and ’00 “Tubes,” saw Trey set his own series of loops and effects while his mates created a rhythmic canvas for him to come in and paint on.  The band got hooked up in earnest during the second half of this jam, killing it, and setting up a big set. Trey hopped onto his keyboard for the final part of this jam, echoing patterns we heard played via his guitar.


What are your favorite “Tubes?”  Respond in Comments below!



12.4.96 Sports Arena, San Diego, CA

phish-clifford-ball-jp-fishThis penultimate show of Fall’96 was carried by a massive “Mike’s Sandwich” that is rivaled by few others.  The entire second set, aside from the quick “Ha, Ha, Ha” opener was stuffed into the over-sized “Groove.”  Coupled with a long first set that contained several favorites, this show can hold its own against any from the two-month Fall ’96 run.

I: My Friend My Friend, Chalk Dust Torture, Horn, Uncle Pen, Timber Ho!, Sample in a Jar, Train Song, Guyute, Character Zero, Lizards, David Bowie

II: Ha Ha Ha, Mike’s Song  > Prince Caspian > Sparkle > Punch You in the Eye, Life on Mars, Reba, Lawn Boy*, Weekapaug Groove

E: Jesus Just Left Chicago

*Trey thanks the caterering crew and gets two of them on stage to dance.

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180 Responses to “So Stupendous…”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    whose got my Knoxville extra!? Email me at

  2. Pencilneck Says:

    The who “will camman get to see Phish” story line has had me hooked to this site for weeks now! Tune in, same phish time, same phish channel! Go camman, go!

  3. Pencilneck Says:

    ^”whole” oops.

  4. camman Says:

    once again thanks mp and you’ll be hearing more from me soon

  5. camman Says:

    showe, if i can make, the tickets are yours, and pencil besides probably getting knoxville tickets, that comment made my day

  6. MP Says:

    BTW, they are $400 each. 🙂

  7. showhe Says:

    MP must work for TicketsNow.

  8. AlabastersGhost Says:

    Its gotta be Dayton. The rift that trey always goes to…. i need to know where the rift came from, which is found in these tubes and ghosts of 97′ and other various funky songs.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    first set of 12-6-96 is hot, second set after lunch. 2001 particularly caught my ear and the YEM was definitely a good one.. love the donuts vocal jam Forgot all about Peaches, that was cool to hear. Overall, a very focused, high energy set!

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m excited to see camman’s first post after seeing a show!

  11. camman Says:

    cuts off arm and tosses it to Mp….

    theres your $400, at least i can still dance

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    alabaster I bet you’d find that riff in james brown if you looked.. It’s really a fairly typical funk riff, Trey just has a way of making typical riffs his own.

  13. camman Says:

    cuts off arm, tosses it to mp

    theres your $400 😛

    at least i can still dance in knoxville

  14. SOAM Says:

    I am so glad my last memory of phish will not be that clusterfuck disaster that was Coventry

    I been wading..I been wading in the

  15. guyforget Says:

    SOAM, INDEED!!!!

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    you know I mostly stay quiet about this, because the reviews are so broadly the same, but am I the only one who actually had a good time at Coventry? I felt like after Bonaroo that year (mud clusterpluck completely) I was trained and ready for that experience. For the record we got our car in, but missed a set and a half because of it.

  17. camman Says:

    i will be posting a big ass review after my first show, which right now is looking like it’ll be knoxville

  18. SOAM Says:



  19. SOAM Says:

    Coventry was my 8th or 9th festival and it was a bittersweet motel-

    chocolates rule for 2 hr rips

  20. guyforget Says:

    i had a great time, flying from AZ to NJ, driving to VT, waiting in traffic for 31 straight hours, following some local hillbiilly who i met at a rest stop how assured me he could get me to the show on some dirt road for an hour, paying $75 to park on somebody’s lawn, taking rides to the show from some 10 year olds towing a trailer on their quads, for 5 bucks each way, wading through mud up to my ankles, losing my shoes, then seeing the worst shows ever….

    Two sweet things:
    1. There was a general store on the grounds that sold cases of beer that was off the beatin path that nobody knew about….
    2. I was there.

    Ps – anybody remember that semi tanker that was flipped over in that ditch?????

  21. camman Says:

    anyone got any extra deer creeck tix? 😛

  22. SOAM Says:

    that wasn’t a semitanker you tripping tweaker-that was a tried and true vermont bred she-cow..lot of big pigs (who need lovin) up there

  23. guyforget Says:

    i knew it couldn’t have been real!!!

  24. SOAM Says:

    forget- we got to party are you going to hampton?

  25. guyforget Says:

    unfortunately not. i’m sticking to my scruples and not paying anybody on any f’n website for tix. this whole adult/job thing is throwing a monkey wrench into this summer, i may just wait for west coast activities, as much as that pains me. i am still kicking the tires on heading back to NJ for the JB and Camden shows, or up to WI to visit friends in madison and hitting alpine.
    we’ll see.

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