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. MrCompletely Says:

    there is absolutely zero question the DEA is fully aware of that site and is active on it. the security of the tech protocols are not relevant.

    cue Ackbar.

    I understand it functioned very well before it became known, and it may well be working now, tho if so that’s just cause the feds haven’t started rolling it up yet.

    action has presumably moved to a successor site by now.

  2. garretc Says:

    While I appreciate that someone took the time to design this album cover for the 4/20 show, which I found posted in etree comments:

    I really cannot support it aesthetically one bit. So much to disapprove of…

  3. kenny powers Says:

    that is epic palmer

    i can;t wait to hang out with all you not really new but still young dads. im ginna be that bad influence that gets you all fucked up and reminds you of life’s parameters.

  4. plord Says:

    No doubt. Here’s my cheerleader, all ready to get in someone’s grill about this. It helps that her school sent a positive message literally on day one; she is confident (us too) that her school wouldn’t see much of this in the first place and if it did, they sure wouldn’t botch the handling of it so badly.

  5. kenny powers Says:

    because a white American male with a degree is pretty much good to go. i mean, if i didn’t have a job already i would soon. our world is weird. let’s all buy an island and it will be BB island.

    7/31/99 2001 wow

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    lol @garretc

    fuck everything about that

  7. kenny powers Says:


    dude that coin you gave us is the best ever. my precious.

  8. kenny powers Says:

    you me and Jtran owned the last row Fish side at Bossom.

  9. garretc Says:

    The back though… The back is definitely worse. Or better. I can’t quite tell…

  10. kenny powers Says:

    bossom. you know, like…bosom.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    on the topic of people who are not homophobic…this Conan O’Brien thing is great and the second half of this vid is hilarious

  12. garretc Says:

    It somehow feels slightly less offensive, but then I look at it again and it plumbs even deeper depths of unsightliness than the front does.

  13. kenny powers Says:

    ganja not being legal and booze otherwise is insanity

  14. garretc Says:

    Eww, Plord, KP, and Jtran were hanging out together in someone’s cleavage?


  15. EL Duderino Says:

    sorry fellas’ had to pick up the SLF from the airport.

    Yeah, not up as of yet but I bet tomorrow morning it’ll be up on all the trackers…

    @ C

    Yeah, that jerry site thingy is a mess kinda IMO

  16. kenny powers Says:

    lol garret!

  17. garretc Says:

    Also gross:

    How filthy the Providence Island Tour Soundcheck Jam is. It’s like the world’s hippest ’80s cop show theme song.

  18. JeffieM Says:


    Not sure if my favorite part is the screaming dude with the crown of thorns on the front or the Blue Jerry face.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ” sorry fellas’ had to pick up the SLF from the airport.”

    ^ i’m sure she appreciates you jumping right back on the computer… haha

  20. alf Says:

    og, first sips of southern tier winter seasonal for the year, 74 dark stars & 95 tweezers

    is how you multitask, bitches

  21. alf Says:

    p.s. anyone got a link to any of those legion shows?

  22. kenny powers Says:

    i have grown so joyously out of touch with relationship dynamics. which is super mellow, but i miss woman parts.

  23. garretc Says:


    Here’s the 4/20 one:

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    @gc yeah that’s hilariously epic

    nice Roadrunner on that show too. like most of the show, not the best, but very good. Martin hits this superb rhythm lick at one point that’s just perfect. Really nice.

    the jerry site was basically 2/3rds of the way to being great and then it just seemed like they stopped working on it

  25. garretc Says:

    But it’s dragging big time…

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