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:

    yo we should all just get twitter accounts and tweet to each other


  2. kenny powers Says:

    ah cool MiA, gracias

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    holy. shit.

    just reading back and went right to that studio one thing

    thanks for the heads up, AW

  4. kenny powers Says:

    Fly is that like some crazy female lion with red circles for ears?

  5. Fly Says:

    yeah pretty much that kp

  6. kenny powers Says:

    dude i’m sorry, when When Trey slays the solo in The Circus Comes to Town that is some good shit 12/31/97

  7. angryjoggerz Says:

    I gotta get hooked up on the demon one of these days. you guys are always talking about hot shit you are grabbing on there, making me jealous. still a torrent virgin.

  8. Fly Says:

    aj you are going to AJ the mustard out of torrenting arent you

  9. kenny powers Says:

    man i’m serious, that 12/31/97 AUD i linked before is such a damn nice recording. and one of the most intense Weekapaugs ever.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    is there a link to that studio one torrent?

  11. albert walker Says:

    agreed on that old marley KP

    I’m not a huge Marley fan but Scratch’s original production on those old Wailer tracks is $$$$

    like Curtis Mayfield to a reggae beat. harmonies are just amazing.

    Soul Rebel is the album

    never liked what future producers did with the sound. Scratch’s shit was just so slick and roots.

  12. kenny powers Says:

    AJ – do you need a code?

  13. albert walker Says:

    there are 50 of them Miner

    Studio One Archives 1-50

    I’ve only listened to the first 4 and maybe have heard 25% of the tracks on em. really slick.

  14. kenny powers Says:


    it’s more like a maze of torrents. Maybe i’ll combine them and make fewer links….they’re mostly 300Mb or so so you could easily have one torrent with 10 shows

  15. albert walker Says:

    Wow Rita Marley’s first single from 1967

    never heard this shit

  16. kenny powers Says:

    actually only about a third of them to be seeding. but i’ll hang on and try to grab them all.

  17. kenny powers Says:

    i didn’t know Rita even sang/played/upheld i and i

  18. halcyon Says:

    evening friends.

    just stacked 2.5 cords of wood, and my back stood up to the challenge, plus I had a little help from the wood deliverers.

    anyone here on diaspora? checking it out, and seeing what this social site is about….

    Probably another time suck, but it looks a lot like Google Plus, or is it the other way around?

  19. kenny powers Says:

    wow, it may be totally tired to say this but Phish in the fall of 1997 was off the chain

  20. kenny powers Says:

    Halcy! My Long Island —> Rocky Mountain hombre.

  21. kenny powers Says:

    you and Guyute711 bring me back memories of college in NY that one year

  22. kenny powers Says:

    and Palmer and Purps

  23. gavinsdad Says:

    coworker gave me a thumb drive with all those JA 45s on em a few months back. i am a douche. sorry for not figuring out a way to up. if i torrented i would have set you guys up awhile ago.


  24. gavinsdad Says:

    94 off the chain too. face smashing band.

    i was sober as a judge in 97 and i bet the mawl crew was loving live that Fall.

  25. kenny powers Says:

    (crickets chirping)

    (bales of hay passing)

    i am up there

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