WURST at Popfest proves he is a badass and Tom Neuwirth an artistic genius


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Wurst #wurst #conchitawurst #popfest

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Let me explain something before I start this WURST at Popfest review:

1. I’m not a Conchita/WURST/Tom Neuwirth fan. I’m a journalist.

2. I have the attention span of a flea, so I am bored with many musicians in weeks. Five years of following Conchita (now WURST), and I don’t see myself getting bored anytime soon.

3. Conchita/WURST/Tom Neuwirth is Austria’s most talented artist. And it’s not my fault if you don’t understand music enough to see that, if you are blinded by homophobia so want to deny that fact, or if you are one of those Austrians who sadly seems to think an Austrian musician couldn’t possibly be that good. Get with the program. You’re being left behind.

And all of this is an introduction to me explaining why Tom Neuwirth is Austria’s biggest treasure, which was proven without a single doubt during his WURST at Popfest in Vienna concert last night.

A concert that, although it had sound problems, was where Tom Neuwirth (WURST) gave his second-best performance ever (this was his best). And one the Popfest crowd went crazy over.

The sound engineering at Popfest

Let me start by saying the sound during his set at Popfest sucked the big one through 3/4 of his performance. Any questions? Check out my Instagram posts here, here and here. Now…moving on.


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POPFEST WAS EVERYTHING Danke Danke Danke @popfestwien wearing @maria_escote pic @wally.patrick

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What did Tom Neuwirth prove last night with his WURST at Popfest performance?

When Conchita Wurst won Eurovision, I think some people thought “will be around for a couple of years”, “a bit of a gimmick”, “not that talented”.

I came across Conchita the day after Eurovision, thought “Holy hell, this dude is one of the most talented musicians I’ve seen” and “God, just think what he’ll be able to do in 10 years time if he sticks at it”, and promptly figured out a way to move to Vienna.

Because the kind of talent, drive, ambition and artistic genius Tom Neuwirth has comes around for most music journalists only a few times in a lifetime.

That, in the five years since Eurovision, Tom Neuwirth has become the artist I thought he might be in 10 years time, if he worked his ass off, only proves how talented this man is.

And makes me thankful I was lucky enough to stumble across him when I did.

WURST at Popfest in Vienna solidified that for me.

Because, last night, we got the culmination of the months of work Tom Neuwirth has put in on developing his new stage persona WURST. A persona far different than Conchita. Not only with the choice of music and personality, but also in his style and in his stage presence.

A persona that started off as a cartoon character of an electro pop singer in latex (see ‘Trash All The Glam‘ video below) then, over the next couple of months, developed into a fully-fleshed out electro pop artist.

Complete with a small library of excellent work (five singles so far), a few appearances on TV or on stage, and some TV/radio interviews.

Last night, however, was when WURST became fully formed.

A night when Tom Neuwirth walked on stage for his first full concert as WURST, took over that stage with a presence that was enormous, and nailed every f*cking song, and some of them (‘Forward‘ ‘Trash All The Glam‘) must be hell to sing live!

Not only that, WURST sang two songs I had not heard before. And, unlike his usual first live performance of a new song, which often includes weak vocals and a nervousness he doesn’t have with songs he knows well, he performed those new songs beautifully.

WURST is wild, powerful and as explosive as dynamite

But this was what grabbed me, and had me screaming at the top of my lungs through the entire concert — his vocals, his stage presence and how he owned that stage.

Because, as Conchita, while Tom Neuwirth was utterly lovely, he always held himself back. So he was as stiff as a board when he sang live up until the last year or so of her life.

And dancing?

That came with rigid hips, a tight face, and a self-consciousness that always made me want to hug him. Because, man, he tried to dance as Conchita. And man, he wasn’t very good at it.

But as WURST?

Tom Neuwirth has become wild, fierce, powerful and as explosive as dynamite. Dancing around that stage last night, not only like he owned it, but like he was controlling fire.

Absolutely confident in everything he did, and such a powerhouse of strength, it was impossible to look away.


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1o. popfest wien ▪️ trash all the glam ▪️ WURST 🖤 T.O.M.

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The audience during WURST at Popfest

But what I thought was even more brilliant about WURST’s performance last night was, during the first song, the audience was giving off that feeling of “Oh for f*cks sake, Conchita? At Popfest, the bastion of coolness? Give me a break”.

But by song number three, they were screaming along with his performance, dancing with him, singing the words to the songs they knew and really getting into that incredible live performer up on that stage. But all with a look of “Conchita does this? Tom Neuwirth is this f*cking cool?”

And they screamed and screamed and screamed when his performance was done.

So last night, after WURST had finished his Popfest performance, I walked away with a grin on my face.

Because I have always said from the minute I laid eyes on Conchita, that man was going to be a superstar.

And, while I think the road ahead for him could still be a struggle as he sheds his Conchita image and, more importantly, as the people who know him only as Conchita start to realize he is so, so, so much more, there is no doubt in my mind that Tom Neuwirth as WURST, or whoever else he decides he wants to be, is going to be huge.

Meanwhile, can I just finish with this?

WURST? He is a f*cking badass!

Related reading: Yes, there are over 700 more Conchita/WURST/Tom Neuwirth articles here, because no other artist has ever fascinated me like this one


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purple rain ☔ WURST ❤️ popfest wien

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About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.