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. kenny powers Says:

    i’ve been grabbing a ton of jazz vinyl rips but have seen very little reggae. if there’s any style of music that makes sense on wax it’s reggae. Rockers! Satta man

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    Damn, that is one hot Tube. so happy these tunes will stream here, cus the actual download sites are all blocked. You know, cus china is so vigilant against piracy.

  3. kenny powers Says:

    this is a fucking sick recording, probably the best i’ve heard from inside MSG, a historically not so great room for audience tapes

    if only there were seeders.

    this WOlfmans is fucking dope

  4. JeffieM Says:

    12-1-95 Mike’s

    you all knew that, but


  5. albert walker Says:

    Studio One Archives Vol 1-?

    that’s what there headings are KP

    really sick. side A and B instrumentals on a shit ton of classics. There are at least 20 of them.

  6. kenny powers Says:


    that is actually one i’m not very fam with. whole show actually. ’95 has some absolutely smoking Mike’s


    are among my faves. i long for the day when Mike’s skull fucks you. been waaaaay too long.

  7. kenny powers Says:

    thanks AW

  8. kenny powers Says:

    holy crap AW, theres literally like 50 torrents. crazy.

  9. kenny powers Says:

    “Music > Reggae > Lossless”

    Well Okay

  10. JeffieM Says:

    Yeah, I need more skullfucking.

    Raleigh Split this summer was pretty close, and I was straight sober, standing next to my dad.
    Hopefully 2012 will be good to us.

  11. albert walker Says:

    best torrents on there I’ve ever pulled from there KP

    didn’t know there were 50. damn. I just pulled the first 20 and have been spinning them non stop the last couple days.

  12. kenny powers Says:

    are they compilations of various artists? what’s the overall idea?

  13. Mulitbeast Says:

    Jeffie M
    Nice…I was @ that Raleigh show. The Split that saved the set.

  14. albert walker Says:

    I think they are done by year maybe?

    haven’t really looked into it yet. The 2 I’ve been spinning are def very early. late 60’s I imagine.

    I think there may be some kind of time line to em. haven’t dug into the whole collection enough yet to really tell yet though.

    I doubt they are just random but who knows.

  15. albert walker Says:

    they’re 45 singles so def various artists

  16. kayatosh Says:

    have an irie time


  17. Mike in Austin Says:

    KP – Funky Meters … English.

    Lots of wah pedal, phaser. Groove. Uptempo. Very little singing

  18. kenny powers Says:

    i should totally have you and Selector sit my ass down and give me some history because although i got way into mid-late 70s rocksteady many years ago i kind of just kept replaying the same stuff (Bob, Culture, Congos, Tosh, Black Uhuru, Spear) I never really heard much other smaller time reggae, just pure riddims and dub from whoever. discovering music is my weakest suit as a human being. after having a roommate who worked at Newbury Comics ands brought home new records on a nightly basis, i got spoiled and lazy

  19. JeffieM Says:

    Yeah multi, i love that jam. Sweet major key section at the start of the jam (which was weird as hell since it was Split), and then really abstract darkness. Storage style before the storage jam.

  20. kenny powers Says:

    as you said, late 60s – the late 60s original Wailers tracks i’ve heard on the “Songs of Freedom” and “Complete Wailers” box sets are so sick, i’d love to hear more where that came from. it’s like acoustic/warm eletric dancehall w/ vocal harmonies. for the longest time i thought Bunny and Tosh were female background vocalists. Tosh has maybe the greatest voice ever.

  21. Mr palmer Says:

    Sounds like I need to check a few of those torrents.

    KP- 12-1-95. Stat!

  22. albert walker Says:

    it’s a deep genre which is why I love it. Not even close to the knowledge are resident selector does but i know what i like

    with dub, dancehall and roots. so much good stuff.

    I started with my fav producers. Tubby, Scratch, Jammy, Scientist.

    tons of stuff never was released digital which is another reason I love it.

    this shit is old school. just post ska rock steady I’m spinning now. very slick.

  23. kenny powers Says:

    i know Palmer i need to get on that! i almost went to that show. was a broke college freshman and was about to have my felt melted at ALbany during a blizzard on 12/9/95

  24. kenny powers Says:

    ah producers is where it’s at. I think those are the guys responsible for all my favorite dub. i didn’t know they produced other cats’ records too.

  25. kenny powers Says:

    yes, my felt was about to get melted.

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