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.



Tags: , , ,

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

  1. kenny powers Says:

    yes G-Dad!!! another Ny guy – or is it NJ?

  2. kenny powers Says:

    G-Dad – i would actually be extremely psyched to be able to say i was sober for ’97. then i would have never missed a minute of that aural gold.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    i have 4 friends whose JA knowledge rivals Selector J and when i saw him in Austin i told him i wished there was a way to get them all together. they would form the biggest JA knowledge dump ever. i’d like to take a class taught by all of em.

    related side note: the pro skater John Cardiel is a serious serious JA collector as well.

  4. halcyon Says:

    Hey KP….how are ya friend?

  5. JeffieM Says:

    What was the best Bowie this year?
    DTE? Superball?

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    where are the 50 torrents?

  7. halcyon Says:

    looks like they are individual files, not one large beast of a file…no?

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kp ‘s on fire. The drive up to Albany in ’95 is a memory that will stay with me forever. What a shit show. I forgot you were a Siena guy. I actually had a few friends there during that time. It’s where we crashed after that show.

    New Haven ’93 was another blizzard show. Snowing cats and dogs. I remember checking into the Hotel Duncan ( don’t ask how i remember the name) with buddies, splitting a 1/4 of boomers and then walking thew mile to venue in the blizzard. One of the best times of my young life at the time. That was the show that it all clicked for me as well.

    I mean, they were playing in an aquarium for crying out loud! Big props to Verno who sent me the dvd of this show, unsolicited, after hearing me tell this story once before.

  9. kenny powers Says:

    i need to come out to Boulder and visit you fucks again! great town, that first day was awesome. i was telling Willowed if we hadn’t shot up to Boulder from the airport coming in I would have been so pissed for wasting away in fucking Commerce City. that place is mad ghetto for CO

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    @KP – my coworker John was one third of the Philly “rap group” Plastic Little. google them. he’s the white guy. he is a Serious serious JA head. my friend Chris Yormick is a great artist and insane JA collector. My wife’s cousin Brent has an extremely huge JA vinyl collection. when i curated this art show called “lovers rock” i had him dj lovers rock the whole time. duh.

    and then my high school buddy Steven lives in LA. he does that blog he posts JA mixes off and on. i’ve linked to em before. they all have the knowledge.

    many people on here love JA music but damn Selector J is OCD on it. great source of knowledge and love of the genre.

  11. albert walker Says:


  12. kayatosh Says:

    kp: any chance to listen to the new 12.11.99 source?

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    somebody send Miner the treasure map to the 50 torrents 😉

  14. halcyon Says:

    we’d love to have you out here again KP!

    12-9-95 is dear to my heart…..what a great night that was….

    we had a huge preparty at our place just a 5 minute walk to the venue, then a huge post party, and then managed to end up at Valentines at 3am. Don’t know how I rallied so long for that show….well actually I do, but damm what I night that was

  15. kenny powers Says:

    g-dad – nice. man i need those kind of friends

    kaya – you are the 2nd person to ask me that so i
    m gonna check out now, once and for all

  16. albert walker Says:

    Della Huphrey’s original version of Dream Land

    damn this shit is epic

  17. albert walker Says:

    night kids. off to grab some herbs.

  18. kenny powers Says:

    i am sad to announce the new 12/11/99 source is not an upgrade. the Neumann u89 source is still the king of the hill.

  19. Tom Says:

    Shit did someone here go to Siena?

  20. kayatosh Says:

    great show/tour stories today. trip from wash dc to michigan for the oct. 95 shows was a blast. had the intimacy of wings stadium in kalamazoo and the immense, cavernous auburn palace.

    right on: kp. I haven’t been on those new sources.

  21. kenny powers Says:

    Valentine’s Halcy! that was the place with like $3 pitchers or something, we got kick out of their when my bonehead roommate punched thru the glass door to the place. tool!

  22. kenny powers Says:


    some of them are very good. being that i have a redic amount of shows it’s pretty rare a new source beats any that i have, but when it does it’s like Goddam christmas.

    wow the 12/31/97 is short but sweeet

  23. halcyon Says:

    spent many a night there … especially when small touring acts would come though….Met Gordon there one night.

    3.00 pitchers on Friday happy hour iirc

  24. kenny powers Says:

    they just had such a liquid, cartoon-funky twizzler crack sound in 97

  25. ThePigSong Says:

    Yo KP – ive been meaning to hit someone up on here for demon invites. Can you spare me two? The pig song at gmail

Leave a Reply