The Rebirth of “Tube”

Fall 1997 (Unknown)

Fourteen years ago tonight, Phish pulled into Dayton’s Nutter Center on a Sunday night following, perhaps, their best performance of Fall ’97 in Auburn Hills. The band had visited the intimate arena once before on 11.30.95 and a played a great show anchored by the second set sequence “Tweezer -> Makisupa -> Antelope.” But two years later, on December 7th, Phish was neck deep in funk grooves and there was still one song they hadn’t played all summer or fall. Because of my love for the ’95 Nutter show, when Cleveland hit on 12/5, I made the call to the people I was riding with—”Tube” in Dayton. It just felt right. The Nutter Center and “Tube” would go well together, at least in theory, and as it turned out the combination wasn’t so bad in reality either!

The last time the band had played “Tube” was in Stuttgart, Germany on 2.26.97, where they hinted at their forthcoming funk in a first-set rendition. But this version stayed true to the form, anchored by Page the entire time as he moved from piano to organ and then back to piano while the rest of the band sat aside comping him. The song has always been a short, infectious, sought after bust out, but with the developments of Summer and Fall ’97, the potential collision of an asteroid and Phish on a James Brown-esque rampage across the country had all sorts of potential. Thus when the band actually did play “Tube” towards the end of the first set at the Nutter Center—I can still remember the moment it dropped—the intimate venue felt like it might explode.

Sliding into Page’s clav solo with precision, the band immediately carried a synced-tempo of champions. They hit a strong collaborative groove behind Page, as he went off on his clav then switched to organ. As the band hit a break, where in the past they might have ended the song, they came back in with a collaborative funk groove of the Fall ’97 variety. The Nutter center shook as the band reinvented the song in front of our eyes. Hitting another break, Trey scratched out a guitar pattern and the band dove headfirst back into the funk for another section of grooves before bridging to the end of the song. All of a sudden, it felt like this funk treatment was what the song had been made for. Phish had done more than impressed everyone in the audience—they had impressed themselves!

After winding up the particularly tight groove, the band liked what they had done so much, that instead of starting a new song, they went right back into the rhythmic workout. Elaborating on the funk theme by adding layers of effects and melody, the band took this section into more earnest improvisational realms. Transforming into one of the eternal highlights of the fall, this jam transformed into a delicate melody-infused hyper-groove; this was music that felt as good as it sounded. Several minutes in, Trey gradually blended in hints of “Slave,” and the band eventually made the move into a magnificent set-closing rendition.

Though Dayton ’97 will always be remembered for many aspects of its show, the most revolutionary was the first truly improvised and funkified “Tube.” After transforming the song into a jam vehicle on this night, Phish kept the song in loose rotation through the end of 2000, appearing in many shapes and sizes. And it was always an adrenaline-inducing dance party. Finishing a gargantuan Midwestern weekend in Dayton and with their reborn song in tow, the band headed for the home stretch of their hallowed tour with a bullseye on Albany one week later. All those “Tubes” we know and love throughout the late ’90s can be traced directly back to the grandfather of all “Tube” jams from Dayton on this 14 years ago.


Jam of the Day:

Tube > Slave” 12.7.97 I

A classic.

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590 Responses to “The Rebirth of “Tube””

  1. Esteban Says:

    @MIA is your dog named Private Pyle? Fo’ reals?

  2. mike in austin Says:

    No. Although I now wish he was. I may change his name because he sure doesn’t come to anything else.

  3. Esteban Says:

    I would get my son a dog if I could choose its name hahah… Private Pyle is as good as it gets. That or Dusty.

  4. mike in austin Says:

    Ha. Get two and name the other one Cowboy.

  5. Esteban Says:

    At 20, it would have been Rueben and Cherise.

    Now that I think back, there’s no way I could’ve had two dogs at that age!

  6. Bwana Says:

    Not your average trade, but please pass along to folks in need of lodging for the run…

    I have a reservation for the Milburn Hotel, 242 West 76th Street, New York NY, 10023. Upper West Side, top rated hotel… Five nights in12/27-out1/1. Rate is $279/night for their Superior studio (king or two twins). Currently good for 3 adults, but can be modified. Great location close to good restaurants, Central Park, and short distance from MSG…

    I need and can pay face for tix* for the 31st and 30th (need 3 each night but will take what I can get)

    *Seats anywhere, don’t have to be together…

    So basically, I’ll buy your extras and you get a hotel reservation. I can transfer it to your name and credit card…


  7. Bwana Says:

    My top ballads:

    Mountains in the Mist (high up there since seeing in T-Ride)
    Strange Design (dating back to Lincoln ’95)
    Lifeboy (also dating back to Lincoln ’95)
    Dirt (build trails for a living)
    FEFY (great tune)

  8. stapes Says:

    Bwana – where do you build trails?

  9. Aquaman Says:

    Checking out yesterday’s JOD. Who knew New Zealand Riesling and 12/6/97 Tweezer jam went so well together?

  10. Bwana Says:


    Well, I’ve built trails all over: Smoky Mnts, North Cascades, Redwoods, Arches, Tetons, and currently I supervise the trails program for the Forest Service in Flagstaff, Arizona… We just finished a big section of The Arizona Trail this year (runs from Utah to Mexico).

  11. Esteban Says:

    Does anyone still have the Google spreadsheet link to the “Economics of Phish 3.0?” I’d love to compare the prices that were circulating for that Fox or Asheville show compared to what I’m seeing online for the MSG NYE run.


  12. Esteban Says:

    F*CK. I am out of beers.

  13. Aquaman Says:

    Does Bug count as a ballad?

  14. Esteban Says:

    That’s what happens on Wednesday night when I cook for friends.

    “Sure, help yourself!”


    “Those IPAs? Yeah, they’ll cure what ails you.”

    “No, please, go right ahead. No, seriously, I’m just glad you like them.”

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    wow, out of all the jammy highlights of the H/W-S shows, this Slave is quite special as well. very nice peak.

  16. mike in austin Says:

    Trail building sounds like a kick ass job. Cool.

  17. stapes Says:

    Sounds close to my dream job @Bwana. I’m an avid mt biker and help out with trail work days up here with local bike shop, county, biking association, etc. Fun work. And I’m a map geek. I can look at trail maps all day.

  18. Bwana Says:

    yeah @mia… in my 20s, i kicked ass building trails. now in my 30s, i get my ass kicked — good thing i’m designing and managing the program half the time… can’t complain though, there’s no better office for me…

  19. Bwana Says:

    nice stapes. where at?? we have a big volunteer core group here in Flag. i had 200 volunteer peeps building trail on National Trails Day this past June. fed them all a nice BBQ lunch and got over a mile of new trail built…

  20. mike in austin Says:

    Set I: Mike’s Song [1] -> H2 -> Weekapaugh [1], Harry Hood [1], Train Song, Billy Breathes, Frankenstein -> Izabella [1]

    Set II: Halley’s[1] -> Tweezer [1] -> Black Eyed Katy [1] -> Piper [1] Antelope [1]

    E: Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer Reprise

    [1] Craaazzzzy Jamming

  21. Esteban Says:

    Top three ballads performed?


    Q: Does anyone else consider Sleep Again a ballad?

  22. stapes Says:

    Boulder County CO. Lots of work is outside Lyons or up in Nederland. Yea, Natl Trails Day was fun this year and last. I got pretty lit up this year. Meet good people. My main riding buddy I met building trail. It’s great finishing the day, seeing the new singletrack, then riding it!

  23. mike in austin Says:

    “Does Bug count as a ballad?”

    I doesn’t matter.

  24. mike in austin Says:

    g’nite gracy

  25. Bwana Says:

    Right on Stapes. I’ve got a few old Prescott College friends and friends of friends that live in Nederland. Some pretty avid bikers too. Dave Banas, Steve King, Stephen LeFaiver… They are stoked on the trails up there!

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