MSG Memoirs: The 12.29.97 “Tube”


It was December 29, 1997, and Phish was back in The Garden for their first holiday show since New Year’s Eve ’95. Skipping the midtown Mecca in favor of Philadelphia and Boston in 1996, the band showed up at MSG in 1997 for a year ending three-pack and they meant business. As memories of their gargantuan New Year’s ’95 performance danced in fans’ heads before the show, Phish came out with a bold sense of adventure and ratcheted intensity on this night. Playing a show—specifically a second set— that could make a strong case for the best in Garden history, 12.29.97 has stood the test of time with a main event that remains one of the band’s strongest sets of the late ’90s.

Phish had just concluded 54 minutes of to-die for jamming in the form of “Disease -> Bowie -> Possum,” and it seemed as if it might be time for a breather. Thus when the band dropped into “Tube” deep in the second set, brains splattered across the arena walls. And ten minutes later when the dust finally settled, this funk fiesta was—and still is—the best “Tube” ever played. The elusive song had been resurrected in Dayton’s Nutter Center weeks earlier, and it was given the full Fall ’97 funked-up treatment for which it had been salivating. A song made for the Cowfunk Revolution finally got its chance to shine. Phish followed up “Tube’s” breakout with a first-set rendition in Albany on the last show of Fall tour, and two appearances over the course of the year hardly guaranteed a spot in the New Year’s Run. But when the first-ever asteroid crashed in Madison Square Garden, things got straight filthy.

Fall 1997 (Unknown)

“Swamp funk” was a term that was tossed around during Fall ’97 to describe the thick, molasses-like grooves that ate up audiences across the nation. And come the year-end party, this “Tube” was a crowning dosage of immortal swamp funk—a hearty helping of Grade-A Phish crack. The collective groove session carried the perfect tempo and represented a culmination of the collaborative rhythmic playing the band had first realized during “Wolfman’s Brother” in Hamburg, Germany, and honed in on throughout the year. Band members filled in the empty spaces left by each other with marksman-like precision, creating one holistic groove throughout the jam while spurning one of the legendary dance sessions in Madison Square Garden history.

Page took the piece out with infectious clav patterns until Trey stepped into the mix with a series of swanky rhythm licks. As the band hit their stride, the music oozed an effortless quality as the audience pulsated as one, gyrating to the buttery excursion. Without missing a beat, the guys paused for three Fall ’97 stop/start segments, allowing Trey, Mike, and Page the spotlight for solos. And each time the band hit one of these breaks, they came back with increased musical momentum, pumping the crowd up more and more with each splash back into the funk. Locked on the same page and riding the wave of a colossal show, Phish nailed this “Tube” like never before or since. The pace, the licks, and the guys’ cooperation all contributed to this jam being far more than the sum of its parts— another unforgettable MSG memory.

Over the next few years, the band brought “Tube” into loose rotation, extending the former three-minute song into lengthy funk extravaganzas. And though they dropped many outstanding renditions throughout this era, none carried the absolute coherence and one-minded groove as MSG’s masterpiece. The Garden brings out the best in Phish, and this “Tube”—not to mention the entire show—is but another perfect example.


Jam of the Day:

Tube” 12.29.97 II

Glorious grooves galore.



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782 Responses to “MSG Memoirs: The 12.29.97 “Tube””

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  1. garretc Says:

    Love this Tube… I’ve spun it probably a good 3 or 4 times in the last month or so. Good call on the tempo, really does help put it a step above.

    Wake me up when it’s the end of December, nothing between now and then important enough to not skip over…

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    FT: (1) 100 level for the 28th; (2) 100 level for the 29th; (1) 300 level for the 30th; and (1) 300 level for NYE

    ISO: (1) 100/floor level for 30th and/or (1) 100 level for the 31st

    (If I trade the 30th or 31st ticket, I need a replacement in return)

    (just puttin’ this out there for the morning peeps)

  3. tba Says:

    12/29/97, wow what a monster show. We had 15th row aisle, thanks old school MO, in between sections 1 and 2 on the floor, facing Trey. As they played serious phunked out versions of Fluffhead, Antelope, Bowie, and YEM I was floored. Tube was soo good it hurt, maybe my fave live Tube (Dayton is probably the best I ever heard, as the reprise is so awesome, but I was not there live) I had been black eyed Katied, and had fully converted to the phunk phish, especially loved Hampton and Worcester-the 11/30/97 turn out the lights jam as well as the whole show, not so much phunk but still so sick (Great Free up there with Sugarbush) and underrated. Just like 11/30, 12/29/97 is respected, but deserves more credit. 95 NYE might never be topped, although never say never, but to hear the big aforementioned four songs played in a no hold barred/perfected funk style blew my mind. I just remember laughing with such joy, with the biggest smile, loving that show. Phish should release the whole Fall and NYE 97 tour as a box set IMHO.

    OK folks are not going to like my next comments. Saw the new MSG “improvements”, and even though I am from Boston, I had always agreed with the NYE at MSG. My backround NYE Phish wise, saw 90,91 both at WTC Beaner, 12/30 94, 95, 96 again Boston, 97, 98, 99, BC, 2002 was my last, but I did attend a few shows of the Miami 2003 run, and saw 1/1/11 this year.

    New York is a special place, but now MSG is, from the pictures, seemingly no different than the rest of the generic arenas, especially TD garden. The classic loge seats w/ 4 seats per section are long gone, as is the nook and cranny; open go where you like w/out CRAMPING others feel. It might be nice for Phish to go back to Boston next year, where the glorious NYE tradition started, at least for the first two shows of the run, and to mix it up, they should do next year in Boston for NYE even. I am sure the majority will disagree, but now MSG is not close to the setup of the old days, I’m gonna take my ripping, and stay with my opinion.

    Anyway, hoping Phish will announce the PPV very soon, and offer a four show deal. That allows us older folks w/ families to maybe hit one (Or go to all 4 if you want :<)), but still see them, and it lets the younger generation have their chance. Sorry but I LOVE the PPV, no distractions, you can jam along if you play, or even sing :<), plus if you don't like crowds, still allows you to appreciate the music as it happens.

    Miner Phish should comp you tix for Christ sake, you deserve it for providing a civilized disussion board, and also keeping us who don't have the time, up to date on everything Phish.

    Sorry for my typos, and if my opinion pissed anyone off regarding next NYE. everyone be lucky.

  4. angryjoggerz Says:

    Hey folks, greeting from Beijing. Miner still not banned in China.

  5. willowed Says:

    Now this is right up my alley!

  6. litteringand Says:

    I love TUBE

  7. Mike in Austin Says:

    Here we go!

    Coffee in hand. Ready for Selector Jay.

    Today is gonna be a long day.

  8. Jtran Says:

    Nice post Miner, can’t wait to revisit this one in a bit.

    Loving this series of MSG Memoirs

  9. Fly Says:

    Evenin’ AJ, glad you got in safe

    I’m all trussed up about to head out for my interviews

    Should be good times

  10. Selector J Says:

    How are you holding up, MiA?
    New Mastersounds kill it as expected?

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    They did. Great groove. Kinda short set though. They were done by 12:15 or so. 1:45 total. But they flew in from Hawaii on a red-eye.

    I think they were “teetering”

  12. Guyute711 Says:

    Big ups everyone, have a great Thursday.
    Tear it up Selector!!!

  13. Beaten Worker Says:


    Loving these memoirs. As someone who will be making his first appearance in New York, The Garden, and Phish for New Years I love hearing these stories from some of my favorite moments in phishistory. Still looking for 3 for NYE if anyone is feeling particularly generous.

    Heres for the return of a Tube that will forever be known as simply, MSG Tube


  14. seif Says:

    I was at this show…but did not recall being there until about a month ago when I was cleaning out some stuff and found the stub! It is an excellent show….i have video (found online after I found my stub) of the whole thing as well if anyone is interested.

  15. Selector J Says:

    AJ reppin Far East Side. Good evening/morning.

    Sounds like a good time, MiA.

    ig up yourself, G711!

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ahhh… what a night that was. that 97 new year’s run might be my favorite of all those runs I have caught.

    yeah, pretty much right up your alley, eh? 😉

    good luck today, fly.

  17. Mike in Austin Says:

    Looking forward to saturday Selector

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    a cool vid to get everyone up even more about our impending descent upon nyc (includes a crowd shot of the old msg at the 20 second mark or so)

    and a petition that really needs to gain as much support as possible. I would expect that Robear will be signing this.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thursday riddemzzz

  20. butter Says:

    Love the Msg table setters Miner

    They need to extend a tube these days, that tune is such a travesty at 3min

    Nice post tba, hopefully your wrong about the Garden tho
    Always enjoy your old school, level headed perspective

  21. Selector J Says:

    Hell yea, MiA. Me, too.
    Gonna be a blast.

  22. butter Says:

    If they went to storage on Tube, it would have the potential to be an instant all timer

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    aww yeah, selector j pon the beijing airwaves, round the world with version, thursday night stylee

  24. alf Says:

    perfect tempo


  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    been up for 28 hours, flew around the world, just hit the sauna, now have qingdao in hand, riddim in my ears

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