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. EL Duderino Says:

    which guys?

    that’s why I love my DeadBase IX

  2. Willowed Says:

    I hope MSG brings a steam that goes really dark and dirty. I can see CK5 doing work to that jam. Pulsating the garden with his light work

  3. kenny powers Says:

    lol Jeffe!


  4. MrCompletely Says:

    the jerry site, all the text files attached to circulating filesets…

    once my amusement recedes to the point I can post about it without being a dick – because really I respect the hell out of the work those guys have done and they don’t deserve me sniping at them – I’ll raise the issue either on WT or directly with the jerrysite guys

    there are some mid-74 shows with Billy K on drums and Tony S on bass that are easily the best of the “jazz odyssey” stuff IMO

    you can tell its tony on bass by the tone – that is, he has some

  5. garretc Says:

    Good call Willowed!

    Always forget about Steam, but that was a fun one at GGP, even if it didn’t quite get the UIC or Dick’s treatment

  6. garretc Says:

    “you can tell its tony on bass by the tone – that is, he has some”


  7. kenny powers Says:

    hahaha i just saw that i typed “feffieM” up there, wow no patience for the keyboard.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    srsly, kahn wasn’t always on the nod but his bass tone sounds like hitting an old sofa with a broomstick

    tony s. is poppin’ and slidin’ and shit

  9. JeffieM Says:

    I kind of like feffie. Since it isn’t actually my name, I might switch that at some point.

  10. kenny powers Says:

    is your real handle Jeff? my bro’s is Geoff

  11. kenny powers Says:

    Irish through and through

  12. halcyon Says:

    el dude

    has that been posted yet, or is it soon to be posted

  13. halcyon Says:


    the LOM project on gd vault has produced some seriously great sounding shows. wish I was grabbing more of them. the 4-20-75 show is just sweet.

  14. JeffieM Says:

    Real name is Mike.

  15. kenny powers Says:

    nice. i met you at Raleigh, yes?

  16. garretc Says:

    Hmm… I gotst no LoM, is there a THE show I should check out?

  17. kenny powers Says:

    dude your pops is a cool dude, i wish i could enjoy a phish show w/ my pops. we have a great relationsizzle but he would not get my world. beer, basketball, and movies are our bag.

  18. Beaten Worker Says:

    Drinking alone and watching disk 2 of Clifford ball, probably heading to coral sky II next, love raging phish all by the lonesome

  19. halcyon Says:

    Garret C

    Check this one out, or the jg75-04-20 show.


    Can check etree, or workingman’s tracker

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    the 2-24-74 upgrade is not on gdvault or etree yet…

    4-20-75 is one of many gems from the era. Amazing high energy show. The project on WT was perfectly timed for my mix project, between that and our friend voopa I was able to pull every circulating SBD with no problem.

    there’s not a bad (or even mediocre) show in the April run to my ear. 4-12 is my favorite with 4-20 and 4-19 just behind it. 5-21 still wins for best overall Legion show imo.

  21. garretc Says:


    Cool, thanks. I searched for the 4/19 on etree, but, thanks to the fucked search function, 4/20 was the first one of the two I’ve been able to encounter, so it’s gonna be that one I guess!

  22. JeffieM Says:

    KP, We met in Charlotte in Leo’s back yard. Not sure if I ran into you in Raleigh.

    My dad is definitely a cool guy. It was his idea to go after he heard about the flying meatstick at NYE.
    His reaction was “Wow, this is a lot different than Tom Petty.”

  23. garretc Says:


    Did you try to sway him by telling him it’d be like Tom Petty? Or was that just his go-to comparison?

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    5-21-75 is the best single show. Has the largest # of “best in circulation” song performances, a few more that I ranked second best, and sounds great. Has some dropouts but not terrible ones.

    I’ll be dropping the Garcia-Saunders-Fierro mix by next weekend (11/11) or so. Covers Jan ’74 through the inexplicable end of the band in July ’75. 30 songs plus a ~20 song “alternate takes and B-list” tunes mix that I’m finalizing now plus a separate ~10 track playlist of the jazz odyssey songs for people who are into that sort of thing. Pulled from every circulating sbd.

  25. halcyon Says:

    ahh cool C!

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