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. halcyon Says:

    Damm GD

    I wish we had more time to hang out that night….Used to see Ominous Seapods all the time. They didn’t live to far from Lark St iirc.

  2. Robear Says:

    @AJ, howdy! Did u get my msg?

  3. angryjoggerz Says:

    Howdy! I didnt, have my iphone off here, hit me up on email if you can.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    still have some of that chiesel to tide me over. and some other shit that I got so high when I was picking it up that I forgot the strain name. something like “Wombat Tomb” but not.

  5. kenny powers Says:


    late to the game but Foobar is great for Windows

  6. garretc Says:

    Ouch C, rub that show in my face, why dontcha?


  7. MrCompletely Says:

    that 21+ thing is biting them in the ass. show not sold out. stupid.

  8. angryjoggerz Says:

    ^ Garretc’d ;0

  9. kenny powers Says:


    it’s way too easy to go from “i’ll just nurse one” to transcendent music sessions and perfect lack of regard for time.

  10. JeffieM Says:

    Does foobar handle shnf, KP? That’s what I use for flac.

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Wombat Tomb ftw


  12. Robear Says:

    AJ, I just wanted to see if I could call a cell phone in China. Got your voicemail. Nothing in particular.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    plus hopefully I’ll see you soon enough right robear?

    we should chat about plans again sometime

  14. garretc Says:

    “^ Garretc’d ”

    Story of my life

  15. kenny powers Says:


    short answer – yes
    long answer – you need to install a free plugin. or at least you to play them. but Foobar should let you convert those to WAV and FLAC

  16. kenny powers Says:

    totally getting lost in the ’98 Alpine Tweezer. totally transcendent in multiple planes and scenarios.

  17. JeffieM Says:

    Oh cool.

    @Everyone else, do I need to keep asking KP questions just to see how many more creative spellings of my name we can get?

  18. JeffieM Says:

    (kidding, of course)

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    that wasn’t a very long “long answer”

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    It’s HERE!!!!

    My favorite ’74 DS of all time!

    Sorry for the delay. I’ve been pretty busy. So this source is direct from Dats lent to me by David Gans. They have lots more tunings than the circulating sources and I also pitch corrected them. They sound very nice, super clean.-CM

    Grateful Dead – February 24, 1974
    Winterland Arena – San Francisco, CA

    Recording Info:
    SBD -> Master Reel -> Dat (44.1k)

    Transfer Info:
    Dat (Tascam DA-20) -> Tascam SS-R05 -> Adobe Audition v3 -> Samplitude Professional v11.2 -> FLAC
    (3 Discs Audio / 1 DVD FLAC)

    All Transfers and Mastering By Charlie Miller
    November 3, 2011

    — All disc changes are seamless
    — Numerous flaws were cleaned up
    — There is a Spanish Jam in Dark Star
    — Tape flips in Row Jimmy and Dark Star
    — Thanks to David Gans for lending me his Dats
    — Thanks to Joe B. Jones for his help with the pitch correction

    Set 1:
    d1t01 – Introduction
    d1t02 – U.S. Blues
    d1t03 – Mexicali Blues
    d1t04 – Brown Eyed Women
    d1t05 – Beat It On Down The Line
    d1t06 – Candyman
    d1t07 – Jack Straw
    d1t08 – China Cat Sunflower ->
    d1t09 – I Know You Rider
    d1t10 – El Paso
    d1t11 – Loser
    d2t01 – Playing In The Band

    Set 2:
    d2t02 – Cumberland Blues
    d2t03 – It Must Have Been The Roses
    d2t04 – Big River
    d2t05 – Bertha
    d2t06 – Weather Report Suite ->
    d2t07 – Row Jimmy
    d2t08 – Ship Of Fools
    d3t01 – Promised Land
    d3t02 – Dark Star ->
    d3t03 – Morning Dew
    d3t04 – Sugar Magnolia ->
    d3t05 – Not Fade Away ->
    d3t06 – Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad ->
    d3t07 – Not Fade Away

    d3t08 – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

  21. garretc Says:

    Seriously, C, callin’ it like it is. KP might as well have said:

    Short answer: yes.
    Long answer: yeeeeeeeesssssssssss

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    nice. there are only 5 dark stars in ’74 but that is certainly the best, and it is a very crisp and energetic show overall. it sounds much more like a fall ’73 show than a ’74 really (neither a good nor bad thing, just an observation)

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    He posted that there’ll be some more ’74 upgrades coming very soon too

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m just realizing in the last week or so that none of the so-called “Jerry-head” Garcia experts online have ever figured out it’s not John Kahn on bass a lot of the time in 73-74 Garcia/Saunders shows

    This is deeply hilarious. it’s Tony Saunders. Sounds nothing like Kahn at all. Should be stunningly obvious to anyone with ears attached to their head.

    It’s such a huge miss, so flagrantly and glaringly evident, that in my mind it basically calls into question all the analysis they have done….going to be very hard to take those guys seriously if it really turns out they haven’t noticed this

    (yes, I am wrapping up that mix)

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    maybe they have figured it out and it’s just not posted anywhere I’m looking

    but it’s not on the jerry site, etc

    quite comical…

    ’74 upgrades FTW! a lot of those tapes are not that great and could really use the improvement.

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