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. DryIceFactory Says:

    I was behind the stage in the 300s when Fishman hit the opening drum roll to the classic piece. Though I had arrived at the show with friends, they weren’t with me for the second set and I was smack dab in the middle of a transformative experience. Sometimes when you’re teetering—walking that delicate line between very high and absolutely overwhelmed—nothing but the Phish can help. And this was my situation during set break. I needed the music to come back.



  2. SillyWilly Says:

    i just looked at the assignment

    45 pages of cases on the Modern Erie Doctrine

    i’m in trouble.

    selector j in the morning is sounding wayyy better.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    something tells me the Wulf will be MSG-ish today…

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    that was funny, selector j

  5. Selector J Says:

    @silly Go to class slacker… 😉

  6. Kaveh Says:

    Looking for 2 Sec 2 NYE tickets.

    I have two 12/30 100 level or two 12/31 300 level seats to trade.

    Let me know.

    kjrahimi at yahoo dot com.

    Great Tube…thanks @Miner.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    you guys should see my professor.

    she’s a terror.

    richest female CEO in Wisconsin. Smokes like a fiend. Wears a microphone because its a big class. Then she just hacks her lung into the microphone all class.

    and she follows a strict socratic method: walks into class, calls a random name off the list and then just debates with them about the case.

    last time I got called on I said: “Um, I don’t think you want to talk to me today.”

    she said, “Don’t let this happen again”

    can’t happen if Im not there.

    lawyer’s logic right there.

  8. stapes Says:

    llfa @ SW

    ahhh huge classes in lecture halls at 8 in the morning. kinda makes me want to go back and get a master’s

  9. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Nice Silly, you sound like me when i was in school.

    Started Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Murakami. Just the first two stories so far. When i finished the first one i thought i may have skipped a page or missed something. Interesting style. Leaves a lot to the readers imagination/mind. Looking forward to reading a few more.

  10. Selector J Says:

    haha. inevitable train wreck… Just when things start sounding like I know what I’m doing… ::crash -> explosion::

  11. Guyute711 Says:

    Yeah, Silly, get to class. I am licking envelopes at work right now. Don’t end up like me mang.

  12. Kaveh Says:

    @Silly: Law school. My wife is three years removed from that torture…but she has plenty of good teacher stories for sure. Always enjoyable to hear.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    the only thing I’m worried about is how many classes can I miss until she reports me to the dean for non-participation

    i don’t think she’s taking roll.

    it’s a dark path to start down, but, man, i’ve been in school for too long

    just gimme one class to slack in

  14. Guyute711 Says:

    And there is the paper cut on my tongue, sweet!!

  15. Selector J Says:

    Hang in there, @silly. Go chat with her after class armed with 4-5 specific questions.
    When I get to a point where I don’t understand things in papers I’m reading, I write a question on a notecard and keep going. Then I actually finish the reading and can go to my advisor and say, “wtf is this all about?” Most professors get that the material is hard and no one really learns it overnight. Then again, this lady may be a little less sympathetic from the sound of it.

  16. dorn76 Says:

    Ah yes, I remember that….Walking in unprepared was like being naked and hoping the Prof wouldn’t notice.

  17. alf Says:

    bobby d you out there?

    trackpad or magic mouse for use with lion’s gesture-based features – any reason to choose one over the other?

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    One of my best friends and former college roommate:

    in a dorm room filled with bong smoke.. ” I’ve already blown off my first two classes, it’s not going to make me feel any better to go to the next class, pass that thing over”….

  19. bob dylan Says:

    kevah, fwiw i dont think anyone will trade 2 nye floors for 2 nye 300s unless you spice up the deal. 100s would be a diff story.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    Yeah, Selector, that’s a good idea. If I could get to the point where I honestly gave enough effort in this class to say I didn’t understand then I’d be a lot better off.


    i just hate that feeling. so embarrassing to stutter around trying to look through your notes. the kid next to you raises his hand and answers in one word making you look like a clown.


    wasn’t expecting you kids to peer pressure me…into class.

    i’ll get my act together. i promise.

  21. bob dylan Says:

    i love the idea posted yesterday about sending mail back to banks when they send me CC signups. occupy wall st.

    in case you missed it, robear posted a video. didnt watch but the idea sounded spot on.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    It sucks when you are thisclose to being finished, silly, but it is worthwhile to push on til the day. might not seem like it now but you’ll be happy for it later on.

  23. kenny powers Says:

    i missed my first two classes of college because i got so shitcanned the previous night on Milwaukee’s Best and Genny and Labatts.

  24. JeffieM Says:

    I had one of those this week.

    I was in a poetry class with our distinguished professor super poet that hangs out with Maya Angelou, just taking it as an elective. I had some pretty bad writer’s block about a month ago and didn’t have anything to turn in, so I didn’t go to class, and then didn’t go to the next class, and so on for about a month. I went to her office hour on Tuesday trying to pull the whole “I’m going to offer to withdraw from the class, but you’re going to understand and tell me I could probably make everything up and get a B.”

    I walk in and start stammering, trying to explain the situation and after a minute she just gives me a look of “Who the fuck are you?” “Oh, I’m JeffieM, your delinquent student Dr. Giovanni. So I guess there’s no way I could get a B in this class?” “No, I think that would be pretty hard…”


  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I love how KP lists 3 different beers…and that he actually remembers what they were!

    Freshman year- Shaeffer was the beer of choice. god was it awful.

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