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. Mike in Austin Says:

    Should try to sleep on that plane AJ. 😉

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    selecta, do you mind when we submit requests or do you typically have your show planned out pretty well?

  3. Jtran Says:

    Storage tube


  4. seif Says:

    quick question: does the “If 6 Was 9” tripped out music played as we all waited for the Storage Jam exist for download anywhere?

  5. Selector J Says:

    I plan the shows a little bit. There’s almost always room for a request. Keep ’em coming. I even honor signs. 😉

  6. butter Says:

    so on Father’s day this summer, when they started Tube, my daughter and I were up on the lawn

    she never saw me move so fast to get down to the moat

    told her its the best 3 minutes of Phish right now and you can’t snooze on it, go to the bathroom, or even get distracted for a moment or you’ll miss it

    she helped us hustle down and totally got it, reason #43 why she’s an awesome tour buddy

  7. stapes Says:

    Good luck Fly!!!

  8. butter Says:

    got time for a binger or two and a few tracks this morn Sel J

    tuned in

  9. Selector J Says:

    BB massive occupy worldwide! China to New York to California to New England.
    Can’t get enough of that Sylford Walker tune.
    Hard to pick a track to follow it, though. Too. Much. Bass.

  10. butter Says:

    OccupyOakland got a little wild again last night

  11. Jtran Says:

    nice shoutouts!

  12. butter Says:

    bb ft mutha effin W

    make it a good one (kids)

  13. Selector J Says:

    Ah dang! I knew I was gonna miss one or two of you guys. If you couldn’t tell, I never have anything planned when I start talking…

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    we’re famous!

  15. Guyute711 Says:

    I missed the shoutouts, dang.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and thanks for the Jacob, selecta

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    nature is wicked cool

  18. Guyute711 Says:

    Ok, I just heard shoutouts, what am I behind?

  19. Selector J Says:

    that was the 2nd round of shoutouts, G711.
    It’s ‘big up the listener day’ on WRA!

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    I was going to skip class this morning, but then I heard that song

    go to school.

    son of a bitch

  21. Kaveh Says:

    @Miner: “brains splattered across the arena walls” — Love it!

    Good morning BBers…hope everyone is having a great day; as I’m ready for one myself. Spun the Pine Knob Disease many a time last night out by the fire pit. That version is so, so good. So good, I spun it again on the bus ride into work. That is a great way to start the day…now on to this Tube.

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    Selector givin the power back to the people.

  23. Selector J Says:

    Damn straight, @Silly! Listen to Mr. Lepkie.
    Rasta i-dren nuh skip nuh class, seen?

  24. Jtran Says:

    I remember when one of my teachers once told our class how much we were paying per class (something ridiculous, like $100+). I won’t say it didn’t make me never skip class again, but it did make me think.

  25. Dorn76 Says:

    Still lookin for 12-29’s.

    Also can anyone confirm if there were outlet Ticketmaster sales for this run?

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