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. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, TypeIII

    you’re right.

  2. Jtran Says:


    is she the professor that delivered the speech/poem at the service after the shooting?

  3. Jtran Says:


  4. Selector J Says:

    Just simply talking to her will likely make her go easier on you in class. At this point you’re just a face that she’s loaded all these preconceptions on to.

  5. Guyute711 Says:

    Milwaukee’s Best and Genny and Labatts

    I know these beers all too well.

  6. JeffieM Says:

    Yeah Jtran

    Really cool lady, and it was an awesome class. The writer’s block started out honestly, but then I just got lazy.

  7. stapes Says:

    No Schlitz that night @ KP???

    The whole office is in a sexual harassment training, but I don’t have to go since my last day is a week from today. Sweet.

    Oh, and Vegas in May?!?! Yes, please, with a stop in Denver taboot!!

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    stapes- I heard that too.

  9. Jtran Says:

    Is this the Spiritualized 2001?

  10. Jtran Says:


    Real cool. Little known fact: I went to Tech my freshman year (which was the year before the shooting)

  11. Selector J Says:

    ding ding ding
    jtran quick on the draw.

  12. stapes Says:

    Mr P – any rumored dates west of the Mississippi get me excited. And flights to Vegas from here are dirt cheap.

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    when is the tease? I gotta listen for it.

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    I think Phish attracts C- students.

    Or turns them into it.

  15. Selector J Says:

    I hope the Heavenless riddim excursion wasn’t too annoying. People that listen to way to much reggae like myself probably think it’s cooler than normal people. Gotta go set up some outdoor radio broadcast deal. Should be fun. Big up to all the BB massive for tuning in.

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    MIA- follow this guy on twitter. the real fly. Financial guy, stock picker, crude and offensive and quite hilarious. You’ll thank me later. He will also make you some $$

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    What’s up slackers?

    Hampton and Vegas rumors now?

  18. Jtran Says:


    It was like 5 minutes in..already happened.

  19. Jtran Says:

    New goal: move to Denver in time to hit the Vegas run from there

  20. stapes Says:

    haha @ Mia.

    While my grades remained high, Winter ’03 and Summer ’03 definitely played a role in me leaving a large midwestern university and enrolling at a small liberal arts junior college in my hometown.

  21. JeffieM Says:

    Oh wow, I didn’t know that Jtran

    It’s an interesting place. It almost scared me off after a year, too, and some days I wish it had. Not much going on if you’re not an engineer or obsessive about college football.

  22. stapes Says:

    I should also state that my grades weren’t the only thing that were high for most of that period.

    good plan @ jtran.

  23. bob dylan Says:

    alf, i really like the trackpads. been loving the features on my air.

  24. voopa Says:

    stapes, go to that training. Your sexual harassing could use some fine tuning.

  25. Jtran Says:

    I was in the RLC at peddrew-yeates so I actually really liked my living situation, hallmates and the small classes we had to take because of that.

    Transferred for 1. lack of things to do during spring semester 2. missed skiing 3. missed playing hockey

    I really did like my classes though (except the math emporium)

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