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:

    this is another “best ever Legion show” contender tho it only has 1 seed

  2. Jtran Says:

    Last row Blossom ftw

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    there’s a ton of seeding going on at Workingman’s Tracker aka – WT is a great torrent site for peeps who like GD and Jerry. You don’t need an invite but you do have to convince an actual human that you are an actual human. They also don’t have a share ratio requirement. Very awesome tracker. My current handle there is GoingGoingGone

    They are in the middle of a wonderful Garcia/Saunders project there and a lot of ’75 stuff is currently being seeded.

    There are also a lot of jaded, bitter old deadheads in the forums…ignore them

    if the etree torrents are slow and you don’t feel like dealing with WT just wait like a week and I’ll hit you upside your third eye with 6+ hours of the cream of the crop ;o)

    5-21-75 is also in my mediafire, in MP3 tho

  4. kenny powers Says:

    Jtran that is maybe the greatest spot. far back but under the dome and plenty of room in front and behind

  5. garretc Says:

    Ah, shoulda said so! I’m cool with mp3s.

    I think I’ll go with that one for now and wait for the mix…

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kp loves is last rows….ala Jones Beach

  7. kenny powers Says:

    the Possum man. bent notes and psychological stress. love it.

  8. alf Says:

    thanks garret & C

  9. kenny powers Says:

    yes Palmer! the last row at JB is epic. you could get away with literally anything

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    the tension:release ratio in that blossom possum is heavily skewed towards the tension side.

    that’s a good thing.

    I went into the Legion mix thing with 5-21-75 as my favorite show, listened to every circulating SBD and came out the other side with it still my favorite show.

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    5/21 is a nice one.

    I have a 2/14/75 also. Not sure where this came from. shortest track time in the set list is 15 minutes… and its Boogie On.

  12. alf Says:

    and another thanks C. really looking forward to that comp

  13. kenny powers Says:

    darryl hall is my daddy and john oates is my father

  14. alf Says:

    little swamp dogg thrown in for good measure. which reminds me, haven’t spun no whitey in a long long time

    also not much of a steam fan

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    2/14/75 is a mono AUD though right? And it’s one of the full-on Jazz Odyssey shows. All instrumental. Some people love it, not as much to my taste, but very interesting.

    Some of those early 70s auds are pretty good in a weird way. However none of them sound realistic to my ear. There are a lot of great shows that only circulate that way, though.

  16. Jtran Says:

    Blossom Possum > debut of Steam

    That was a great segment. And we still had that Sally to come. Such a fun time

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    yeah, your right @ C. I can’t remember where it originated from. I just happened to look up what LOM shows i had and it popped up. Probably only listened to it once. Jazz Odyssey for sure.

  18. kenny powers Says:

    the possum completely blew my mind, took me for a loop, spoke to me, et cetera et cetera. seriously moved planets.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    at first I was just gonna leave all the Jazz Odyssey stuff out cause I am not into it

    I am too much of a jazz snob or something. Those guys are great rock/funk/jam musicians but as jazz players go wellllllll….they are great rock/funk/jam musicians. I find the jazz stuff (with one colossal exception) to be quite tedious and pedestrian as jazz goes, and lacking in dynamics compared to the other songs they were playing….I mean why would I listen to their Little Sunflower when I have the Freddie Hubbard version? it adds nothing imo…

    but it was a big part of the repertoire so leaving it out totally wouldn’t be right… I just put it in its own little mix so you can make up your own mind, if you like it, you can add it into the overall playlist or whatever.

    very big YMMV point.

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    the Every Word You Say on 4/19/75 will make the hardest men cry like babies

  21. alf Says:

    @gdad, you catch this one?

    12-28-95 melt is how you open a show

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    the 2/14/75 show is heavily hyped in the text file and comment threads. IMO partly b/c its unique and partly b/c most deadheads don’t know shit about jazz

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    I should re-listen to the 4-19 one. I went with 7-4 but I don’t have notes on the 4-19 version for some reason. Great rarity.

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    maybe the best track on the show list

  25. kenny powers Says:

    y’all veterans should call a dg tune….a little groupthink kinetically

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