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:

    right back atcha pigsizzle

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

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


  3. stapes Says:

    What’s up Halcyon glad to hear the back held up

    KP are you multitasking?

  4. kayatosh Says:

    flippin through my phish companion from 2000 and feeling nostalgic about phish shows of the 90’s that I was lucky enough to attend. it’s through these shows that I keep track of the various episodes of my life.

    peace, friends

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    No offense, gdad, but most of the judges I’ve met aren’t exactly teetotalers 😉

    Speaking of which, kp, I paid a visit to julio tonight. Maine beer co. Lunch ipa mmmmmmm

  6. kenny powers Says:

    mssg sent Pigsong

  7. kenny powers Says:

    yes stapes. yes my dear boy (in a sherlock holmes kind of way)

  8. kenny powers Says:

    so did i t3!!!! haha! i was there about 6:00. grabbed a redic amount pf singles, like $45 worth. a mix of formidable locals and tasty midwest and west pops

  9. stapes Says:

    The name of the beer is Lunch IPA?

    I like

  10. Robear Says:

    Got through most of 12/29/95 today. On ‘McGrupp’. It’s funny, I remember where I sat that night, but have no idea where we stayed that night….I have no idea where we stayed in NYC after the 30th either. We went to Wetlands for Moe after NYE, then drove to Vermont in the morning. I do remember that.

    What an amazing 4 night run. It’s probably under appreciated because the 31st is so popular, but those Worcester shows are incendiary in their own rite.

  11. kenny powers Says:

    i’m doing the cheesy fall style drinking, like German Altbiers and Bocks, and American browns, and some Scotchs. basically malt crazy and in the mood for low-IBU brews

  12. Fly Says:

    i miss scotch

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Sipped a Sammy nut brown last nite as a nod to the lot.

    @halcy – when I met you last dec at rattle n hum I was with 3 old friends. It was too nuts in there to settle in so you would have realized that one of them was one of the 3 Chris’s I see shows with and he used to manage the ominous seapods in Albany. We were at their house before 12/9/95 in the snowy mess. My buddy Thomas and I danced outside a portal opening in the hall that nite and post show we slept in at seapod mansion in their unheated attic and drove back early enough the next am in time for me to make it to work. Another friend at Rattle was my friend James…who had called the 12/9/95 yem the “power dank” yem for years for the sheer silliness of it. At the show I didn’t realize what a whopper of a yem it was….only years after on respin. Cool to know u spent time in that neck of the woods…I never put that together

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    black star and shabazz palaces tomorrow night

    question: is there enough herb on earth to properly prepare for a shabazz live set?

    i aims ta find out.


  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    No way, kp! I must have missed you by a few minutes. Walked in at 6:15. Walked out 20 minutes later with 3 bombers of lunch ipa, 1 of the Maine peeper pale, 1 of the clown shoes black ipa, a sixer of left hand stranger pale, a sixer of double bag, and some chardonnay for Mrs. Disorder. That place is readicculus. They even have me carrying a punch card for free swag when I buy enough beers

  16. Fly Says:


  17. kenny powers Says:

    yes Mr C! i want to find out as well.

    t3 – terminator x, or perhaps sarah connor, or chuck sweD

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    You’ll find a way C. Think AW and AJ were sitting with me for the Shabazz set at pitchfork this summer. He had a live percussionist and it was pretty sick. Enjoy.

  19. ThePigSong Says:

    Thanks KP!

    There’s a Power dank YouTube of the power dank YEM. I’d link it but I’m on my phone and lazy…

    That video may be what I start multi tasking with tomorrow.

  20. JeffieM Says:

    Question: what PC software do I want to convert shnf files?

    Engaging in one of my favorite procrastination activities: Finding/downloading/sorting music files.

  21. angryjoggerz Says:

    Indeed it was AW, GD and AJ at pfork for Shabazzz. I think it may have been 110 degrees. Beats, clouds and the hunt for the missing cell phone.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    roseland security are extra douchey for all shows involving black people. they take this to fairly ridiculous extremes at times. makes it a bit more of a sporting event, puffing tough in there. but when the going gets weird, etc

    looking forward to it. my favorite rap from 1998 and my favorite rap from now.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    traders little helper is the swiss army knife of windows audio file converters

  24. Robear Says:

    Dag burn it C! Wish I could aid the experiment tomorrow night. Provide some catalyst

  25. JeffieM Says:

    thanks C

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