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.



Tags: , , ,

782 Responses to “MSG Memoirs: The 12.29.97 “Tube””

  1. SillyWilly Says:


    you drink loose leaf?

  2. kayatosh Says:

    heard about that GG park 11.3.91 show on the radio today. In honor of Bill Graham.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I have no memory of the sound being bad at the aragon for phish, but the tapes tell the tale for sure. that was also during the holy-shit-I-get-to-see-phish-again-and-wow-i’m-only-ten-rows-from-fishman-man-this-blotter-really-is-doing-the-trick phase of my phandom so I wasn’t really concentrating on stuff like that back then anyway!

  4. kayatosh Says:

    Is tick with the pouch/bag. Mighty leaf has a fancy mesh pouch, bu this Price of Peace is flavorful and way cheaper. Going back to my roots as a strictly green/white tea man. coffee is delicious but too strong. Green tea tasty, lighter, cleaner, arguably more health benefits and less caffeine.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    The novelty of the Aragon wore off pretty quickly for me T3…
    I totally understand your point tho’

  6. kayatosh Says:

    looks like i missed another breakout. volatile mrkts.

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    Greece is a joke IMO

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Fired up 10/31/95 YEM.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    11.18.94 Tweezer — ridiculously good. almost sounds like it could be from the 97, but closer listen reveals that edgy, duck for cover, aliens in your pants, 94 sound.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    see you in 40, palms

  11. tela'smuff Says:

    @robear – yeah, that 12-28-95 Tweezer is so much bettr than i remember. i am surprised how much my memory had underrated that show.

    Timber, Theme>Wilson>Buried Alive, Tweezer>I Didn’t Know is as solid as some of the other highlights this run. not better, but this segment holds us really well.

  12. Kaveh Says:

    Fired up 10/31/95 YEM.

    ^ Mr. P: I did the other day…so SWEET!

  13. Mulitbeast Says:

    Wear your own new “Antelope Boy” on turr!

  14. kenny powers Says:

    mr P

    meant to check that last night, will tonight. last night i compared a bunch of the new ’97-’98 sources, either mg210’s uploaded by “tapejunkie” or schoeps uploaded by twatts. overall a nice batch, even a couple that i think i like better than ones i previously had.

    i went from having sub-par copies of the Albany ’97 shows to now having really nice sounding ones.

  15. Kaveh Says:

    Mr. P: Heck…I’m firing it up again. And thanks for the MSG chart.

  16. kenny powers Says:

    i love it how through OCD and perseverance (difference?) you can constantly fine-tune your AUD stash, especially with these etree saviors uploading buckets of new sources. i guess all these old school tapers have assloads of DATs but never had the patience or interest in transferring and upping them, so now peeps are finally coordinating that shit.

  17. Jtran Says:

    Thank you spotify, I’ll spin this YEM too

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    @ KP

    Like Chris Cage and some of the other HomeTeam friends I have…

    The Dats are starting to deteriorate, so the time has come to either “save”
    ’em or end up throwing them away…

  19. Jtran Says:


    Was wondering how/why new sources were still coming to the surface 13+ years later. It’s crazy for me to think there’s just tapes of old shows sitting around in people’s basements that have never been shared before.

    Now I’ve got myself does the amount of rigs at a show these days compare to the 94ish-00 period?

  20. kenny powers Says:

    ah yes Chris Cage and the AKG 483s!

    @ jtran there were waaaay more tapers back then, like many many times more. probably the best sounding FOBs from Cypress didn’t even circulate until last year. i mean, come on now.

    i was listening to a FOB recording of 12/31/97 last night that is such a rediculously awesome audience recording. Some nearby hoots and hollers as can be expected from a FOB, but damn it’s like you’re right there. made all the better since most tapes from the tapers’ section at MSG come out boomy because of the size and shape of the room, location of OTS etc.

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Jtran

    Having a few serious taper friends… doesn’t even compare to the “old” days

    My very close friend Mean Gene13 has over a 1,000 dats in boxes in storage… many, many, gems. Time just seems to slip on by

  22. Jtran Says:

    thanks dude/kp

    As always, love the history lessons here

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    Man, I heard the Sting song Fortress Around Your Heart recently and I keep having to play it. I like a bunch of Sting actually and I saw him open for GD. It was pretty fun, I saw Sting tripping for the first time ever. Who’d have thunk that could happen.

  24. garretc Says:


    Wait, were you tripping for the first time ever, or was Sting tripping for the first time ever?

  25. kenny powers Says:

    i bet part of the problem that most of the tapers who were active 15-ish years ago are what we’d now consider old school, i.e. trading physical DATs, maybe burning to CD. they probably stopped taping before transferring via computer became the standard, and they probably lost touch with peeps who have the capability and desire to transfer DATs.

Leave a Reply