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. JeffieM Says:

    I’ve recently discovered that a much better alternative to the etree search is to just google “etree (band) (date).” Usually don’t get right to the torrent page, but I can find something with the id number to plug into etree.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    you guys and all your beer talk earlier. I had to go run to the store and buy some…

    Thanks for the link El Dude. That will be on tomorrows agenda.

    ^^ link to the Furthur stream if anyone is interested. I think they are at set break right now.

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Am I the only one around here that isn’t a big fan of Steam? If so, I’m ok with that. I skip it every time it comes up. Maybe my thoughts will change if i catch it live. Meh…

  4. garretc Says:

    Dang P, the stream is tempting, but I know if I click it I’m not gonna get anything else done until it’s over…

  5. JeffieM Says:

    That was on him, Garret. He and my mom have seen him three times. They loved the first two, but after the third realized that they’d already been to that concert twice before.

  6. kenny powers Says:

    Mr P

    that was my problem as well. we have the sickest package store around here, you can take singles of any beer they sell in 6ers, and you get 15% off for getting at least a half dozen

  7. garretc Says:

    @Mr. P

    I wasn’t floored listening to Blossom or MPPs, but I really dug GGP in the building and UIC/Dick’s on listen back, so either hearing it made me like it, or they just got better at it?

    Could be either I suppose…

  8. kenny powers Says:


    I looove Steam. that tune is close to my heart. heard them sound check it from the gift shop on 5/28/11, then saw the debut at Blossom.  so cool to hear a debut and think “i heard them practicing this the other night!”

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    I was confused. 4-20 is madison, for some reason I was thinking of 4-9, the Bottom Line show, which I prefer.

    4-20 is average for the tour: very good but not among the best. Pretty hissy mix at times, below average in that regard. Great mystery train until Martin skronks some insanely harsh notes. Very nice Let It Rock and Mississippi Moon. Phenomenal version of Going Going Gone with a sublime chipped-note solo. Nice Every Word You Say, very strong Boogie On.

    So lots of good to very good performances but a bit of a rough mix relatively speaking

  10. garretc Says:


    I believe it. I saw Mr. Petty once (with my pa, for the added conversation tie-in), and it was a pretty solid show. Like any band that’s been playing together for years, the Heartbreakers are just really together, and know how to put on a show, even if the creative spark of youth isn’t still quite there.

  11. kenny powers Says:

    i mean, the tune itself is pretty plain and repetitive. but anything that resembles a possible vehicle of transcendence is A OK with me, and i like visual effects like fog machines and what have you.


  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    KP- there is the dumpiest looking liquor store in my town but they have the greatest beer selection. You would never know it, like a hidden gem.

    They have all those single bombers. I’m not educated enough on the beers to know whats good or not though. I just grabbed a 4 pack of Dogfishhead 90 minute and a Langunitas(?) Bomber.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    if you want to search etree for GD or Jerry the easiest way to do it is to search for, for instance:


    and then use ctrl-F Find to search more specifically within those results

    total PITA but it works

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Sure, palmer. Blame your need for good beer on us. Reeeeeaal mature. 🙄

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    Anyone been down the silky road?

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    is that some kind of disgusting sexual reference @gd?

    keep yr fetishes out of here plz…unless you have pics in which case…

  17. bigjig Says:

    Gdad, just read about it today. Not computer literate enough, but would love to no more.

  18. JeffieM Says:

    Garret – Pretty much my experience too. Fun time hearing a bunch of songs I’d heard a bunch of times. Nothing not fun about a greatest hits concert by a band that still wants to put on a good show.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    @garretc, if you are listening to legion for the first time, here is a WARNING

    Martin Fierro could really play in those days and overall added a lot to the band, but man, did he ever have a predilection for going apeshit on the super harsh skronky squealing notes a few times a show.

    a big part of the point of this mix is weeding that stuff out as much as possible.

    but as long as it doesn’t ambush you, it doesn’t hurt as much. so just FYI

    funny thing is, aside from that, this music is perfect for lovin’…but that stuff can spoil the mood in a big damn hurry

  20. bigjig Says:

    Basically a sight for people of the world to trade in the illicit. Run through super encrypted tech, and funds transferred through some type of computer currency, that may or may not be traceable.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    heard of it but haven’t done it myself, gdad. you? seems sketch to me

  22. plord Says:

    I love Steam, cheeseball fx and all. The groove is downright skanky and each version has gotten bigger than the previous.

    In other news, this evening my 14yo stepdaughter caught wind of a social injustice going down at a rival H.S.– briefly, a GLBT kid was getting seriously hassled, some other kids came to his defense, and the defenders are getting punished worse than the attackers– so she made Protest/That’s-So-Wrong/Go-Raise-Heck flyers to hang in her school, complete with contact info for the other H.S. principal and staff. We are staying out of her way and letting her run with it. Girl is on a mission. I am so proud.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    thats just what i need….

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    ohhh that


    the feds know about it now. I wouldn’t be in it anymore. it broke into public news a few months back and since then I would say it’s a no go zone.

    the TOR protocol itself is secure but it doesn’t prevent sting (or reverse sting) operations

    plus doesn’t it use bitcoin? that’s a total pyramid scheme and bubble due to burst.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s awesome @plord

    who the fuck has time for homophobia. so fucking primitive. ridiculous this is still an issue at all. feels like the cultural tide is turning with the current young generation tho

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