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. stapes Says:

    thx, voopa.

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    I haven’t got a C- in law school

    Two C+s

    which were pretty impressive considering I never opened my Trusts and Estates book until 8 days before the exam

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    breaking news!!

    watch out. we could be next*

    *not likely

  4. JeffieM Says:

    Yeah, TIII, that would be fun with the 3.0 demographics.
    “Despite the fact that many phans are fathers that live in the suburbs, they are still extremely dangerous when they gather in places like Bethel, NY or Telluride, Co and get really high.”

  5. alf Says:

    thanks bob. trackpad it is

  6. alf Says:

    i love to fail stoner fuck slackers like the kids on the bb

  7. gavinsdad Says:

    97 nye msg easily some of my most memorable shows (i only got 12/29 and 12/30 but they were the heavy hitters). good friends and amazing music those nites. good post too behind stage top ring.

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    i’m part of the bring back Izabella camp. not just cause i’m a nostalgist…moreso that i just want them to rip it a new ahole

  9. albert walker Says:

    I feel for ya SW

    college = hell on earth

  10. Kaveh Says:

    @BD: Yep…I know I would consider adding cash for sure for the seat difference.

  11. kenny powers Says:

    @ Mr P

    well, to be honest i can’t be sure i had all three on that night, but those were pretty much the 3 we drank all the time at Siena.

  12. Kaveh Says:

    Shaeffer was the beer of choice. god was it awful.

    ^ Holy f…that beer was terrible….and unfortunately, I know that personally.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    i’m just a whiner

    i need to suck it up, and just get done with it

    i better start studying.


  14. albert walker Says:

    Love me some Heavenless Riddim Selector

    can you replay your shows anywhere?
    can’t listen at work

  15. Mike in Austin Says:

    Gorge ’99, I’m high as Jon Lajoie, as two cute half naked phishies walk by on a gorgeous fall day, and I say to my friend “It’s so cute watching Freshman fail their first quarter of college.”

    Says MiA, who is currently blowing off “unimportant” meeting to listen to this glorious Tube.

    Palmer, now following that dude. Read his blog. Funny.

    I think I broke my entire hand from punching the shit out of my desk. Fucking RENN tanked today on some article, written in the devil’s language (chinese), sending shares down as much as 10%.

  16. kenny powers Says:

    wow i just got oddly nostalgic for shitty ass beer. double digits are a given with that shwill. Beirut! ok too early for this subject

  17. Wilson123 Says:

    What’s up all

    Up for Trade: 1 Section 3 12/28, 2 Section 2 12/30s.

    Looking for: NYE

    hit me up,

    8 more Wednesdays folks!

  18. Mike in Austin Says:



  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    kp, it’s gonna be okay.
    step away from the bad beer talk.
    as penance, you must now visit julio’s this weekend and buy no less than two bombers of h3tty beers you had never heard of prior to entering the store.
    thy shall be done.
    ::cue angelic trumpeting::

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    This dude is golden.!/The_Real_Fly/status/119974016948764673/photo/1/large

  21. Wilson123 Says:

    @miner – would you want to do a trade for your NYE for my 12/30 or 12/28 floors?

    Let me know dude!

  22. Robear Says:

    Top of the mornin! Flights booked. Occupy MSG.

    If you haven’t seen this article, check it. A eulogy for Steve Jobs from a once ‘long lost sister’.

    She says he was never pessimistic, ironic, or sarcastic. I could learn from that guy…..

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @evil dictator + numbers guy

    just a friendly heads up: code your email rather than typing the whole thing out. it’ll save you some spambot love of the junk mail variety. try “evan (dot) hirschhorn (at) mail of the g” or something.

    just trying to save you some annoyance

  24. ae Says:

    great eulogy, i read it yesterday on the subway. pretty intense.

  25. win butler Says:

    If your name is not “Mr Miner”,

    Stop with the ticket groveling already! Especially you constant offenders and part time posters. Good lord! Pay a scalper or get on the exchange board already.

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