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. albert walker Says:

    No doubt staples. I’m probably too hard on it. I don’t listen to much songwriter based new white music. Every critic in the world seems to love it.

    He is easy to hate though.

  2. kayatosh Says:

    gorgeous piece of music. audience and band synced up in the round room.

  3. Jtran Says:

    for those looking for something different

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    different than the one i linked last night. Site map from your seats, MSG.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    Sect 345 was where my seats were for 12/31/97

  6. Robear Says:


    No Tyree = no chance

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    hmmm. that looks like it might be the old set up though. Although the dates for events say 2011.

  8. Gratefulcub Says:

    No problem Mr P. Brandon Jacobs has been telling everyone that all he needs is the ball. What? You don’t believe him?

  9. kayatosh Says:

    silly: professor smoker hacks into mic — no wonder you skip class. had a tax law class taught by an older dude who used a mic. and the awful sounds cooming through that mic were unbearable. skipped a lot, took exam high and barefoot, got a C+, if memory serves. school can suck the life outta ya.

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    Bears will be victorious over the Eagles on Monday night

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    so silly Robear…

    Gcub- now he can stop talking and actually do something. Lets see what he’s made of.

  12. kayatosh Says:

    that’s big talk, el dude. I think the opposite. Dream team clicked last week. bears get rolled.

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    John Popper on this 11/03/91 Wang Dang Doodle is pretty fuckin’ schweet

  14. kayatosh Says:

    started w/ 12.29.97 tube, then let the iaudio shuffle it. next 2 tunes: 2.22.73 dark star, 12.13.97 tube. $$$

  15. kayatosh Says:

    Mr. C: thanks for the coradetti link. tripped out art. nice.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @el dude
    aragon sound is rough (however, the ceiling is stellar!), but I defy anyone to find worse sound than this venue. saw Blues Traveler and a host of others there during my time at nd. geodesic domes and live music do not mix to create good sound.

  17. kayatosh Says:

    funny calling a 3-4 team the dream team, but expectations are high in philly town after that sun. night dallas game. Gotta like the eagles O provided they continue to get continuity up front. When eagles O is working eagles D stays fresh and then they can be dangerous.

  18. Guyute711 Says:

    Tyree, Syracuse grad.
    Bears are going down big this week. Philly is gonna start to roll.
    It’s killing me that Indio and Miami were two years ago. Time for a layoff. I shouldn’t even say that, my roommate got canned yesterday.

  19. albert walker Says:

    Aragon is def from very bad to shitty depending on the band

    Ween always tries to play loud as shit there and it turns into a boomy bounce back murky wall of noise


  20. voopa Says:

    11-3-91 was a great day. My second show, 350K in Golden Gate Park…too bad it’s unlistenable because the band was so out of tune that day…

  21. stapes Says:

    Only show I’ve seen at Aragon was Oysterhead. Don’t remember sound being too bad depending on where you were. But was a bit muddy. I could see Panic sounding really bad in there though.

  22. SillyWilly Says:


    knew you would understand

    i’ve steered clear away from any tax classes. same thing with any business org type class

    Instead, I’m opting for classes like “Jurisprudence, Social Sciences, and the Humanities” and “Client Counseling”

    gotta stay interested.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kp- if your still out there. How does that new 12.11.99 pull on bt.etree sound?

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Voopa

    The China Cat, WDD, and Truckin’ are pretty nice, not great but pretty nice.

    Was @ that Oyster show and WSP in like ’99 Phil in ’01 or ’02…

    great looking venue, just awful sound. Easy to get too from Red-Line tho’

    Love me the Riviera

  25. kayatosh Says:

    drinking some delicious Prince of Peace organic premium peony white tea.

    I mention it b/c a box of 20 bags goes for under $2.50 at WF. 15 bags of mighty leaf white tea go for close to $9. Prince of Peace has operations in China so the middleman is nixed and the price is right.

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