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. stapes Says:

    If I had to do top 3 ballads:

    if I could
    Mtns in the Mist

    Honorable mention:
    army of one
    Strange Design

    I really like more of their ballads than I realize

  2. stapes Says:

    Few of those names sound familiar.

    If I make it to AZ I’ll look you up.

  3. Bwana Says:

    Right on… Yeah, we have 3 seasons of mtn biking in Flag, 4 if you count driving 45 mins down to Sedona for some great slickrock rides… Been getting better every year for our trail system, quietly becoming a trails mecca.

  4. stapes Says:

    Seen/heard great things about Sedona trails.

    The Ned trail system is interesting. USFS Land, private, old mining claims, “secret” trails etc. Super fun. Not always dry real long though. Lower foothills stuff is dry a lot of winter if we’re lucky. Not the case now, unfortunately.

    Some ballads then bedtime for me.

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    prescott college? I bet you know some of my friends…or not…

  6. Bwana Says:

    maybe @miner… shoot me some names. as you probably know it’s a small college and a close-knit community. i was there 99-01 but know folks from earlier and later eras…

  7. Bwana Says:

    you’re in San Fran, Miner? how about Blair Carter, Drew Dellinger…

  8. Robear Says:

    I filled out a real estate purchase agreement today, and dated 2 different pages 12/6/97. My client noticed.

    “Where where you at today?”


  9. MrCompletely Says:

    trying to rally some local troops for Bombino on Saturday

    epic fail thus far

  10. hazel mango Says:

    BTW, Urban Dictionary only lists for bane as definition #8: n. an alternative slang word to describe a cigarette. However, as definition #1:cause of harm, ruin, distress, destruction, or death.

  11. Bwana Says:

    i wish Bombino was coming closer my way…

  12. voopa Says:

    Ugh. Got volunteered to run sound for mrs. v’s HS holiday band concert…I couldn’t run a proper soundcheck because, well, I work a full day too. Apparently they never did one either. Feedback galore. Incredibly embarrassing.

    But she promised to never put me through that again, so there’s that.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    that sounds shitty @voopa

    spin this totally underrated & slept on show to take your mind off it

  14. Tom Says:

    PTBM sent

  15. Dorn76 Says:

    Great call. I’ll take a Buffalo Bill at MSG.

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