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””

  1. Fly Says:


  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    @sumo it was 1:45 total with one opening band. It’s not a two set thing.

    They had just come in on the red eye from HI and they commented that they might fall asleep on stage. So I think they chose to cut it off early.

    Bars in Austin close at 2 AM. They shut down at 12:15 or so. They wanted to sign breasts (their own) and meet people.

  3. alf Says:

    impressed so far

    already found some of telas playlists

  4. Mulitbeast Says:

    Check out this photogs photo stream on flicker. He takes a lot of concert photos but he clearly loves the ladies, and so do I! Start here and browse around:

  5. Fly Says:

    my bad on date mix up

    listened back to that tweeze for the first time in a while, pretty enjoyable

    light really wasnt THAT bad either, just felt like a letdown in the moment, because the first set was good (IMO) and then they opened with, well, tweezer>light

    but who cares about that show, really. bring on the 30 minute mike’s song

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    @Alf – New Mastersounds re:mixed

  7. angryjoggerz Says:

    Just woke up. Jesus, what day is it? Last time I slept it was Tuesday night, now it is Friday. Time travel is a bitch. Greetings.

  8. tela'smuff Says:

    what up AJ.

    musically speaking, between my Phish spins, i’ve been enjoying some Dead Milkmen and Fugazi the last couple of days.

  9. Mike in Austin Says:

    I used to have a portable clock radio that played “I got you babe” every morning. Now my phone does it.

    Rise and Shine campers!

  10. Gavinsdad Says:

    Can the slits the raincoats Sham 69 and early fair port convention on the spotifys. Also YOB if you like doom bands that play 4 song sets

  11. garretc Says:

    Dammmmnnnnnn. Page’s piano solo on the 8/12/93 Squirming Coil.


  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    Remind me not to share a room with MiA, ha.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Trick or treaters on Nov. 3rd.


  14. P.S.H.S Says:

    Didn’t read back yet, but I’m pretty sure this tube has a beck tease, devils haircut I think.

    Furthur tonight, first time for me. Excited to see some live music!!!

  15. albert walker Says:

    Been obsessively spinning these studio one mixes

    some cat put this shit up on demonoid. there is like 20 volumes or something. all out of print studio one 45’s

    fuckin sick. Rock Steady bitches.

    also Ras Michael – Rastafari Dub.

    never had heard this one. GD recommended it. crucial.

  16. Chuck sweD Says:

    if i had a million dollars,
    i’d pay someone to follow me around with a boombox just bumping this tube on loop,
    the world would be a better place.

    and dont forget: swed

  17. albert walker Says:

    I would kill several people to have this OG 45 collection

    just amazing

  18. angryjoggerz Says:

    GD, well done on planning the fam/pham trip to MSG. It is a delicate game, but I find i wake up much less groggy.

  19. Chuck sweD Says:

    pay me a million dollars to kill someone

    you have your OG 45s
    i have a boombox butler

    everyone wins (except for win butler)

  20. Chuck sweD Says:

    why am i trying to kill you?

  21. Mulitbeast Says:

    and the person getting killed. He/she does not win.

  22. albert walker Says:

    too many humans anyway. and they all suck.

  23. JeffieM Says:

    Chuck, hire me to be your boom box butler

    one condition is that I can cut it off when I buy us both MSG tickets.

  24. kenny powers Says:

    so apparently i should check out New Mastersounds when they come to Boston on 11/20. know zero about them.

    okay here comes that annoying question – encapsulate everything you can about them in 10 words or less. genre? style?

  25. kenny powers Says:


    how do i search for that on Demon, i want that for sure

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