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The Last Dinner Party
The Last Dinner Party
Photo by Rina Fontes Malka
Culture > Entertainment

The Last Dinner Party scandal — what’s happened?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

New indie rock band on the block! And they’re already stirring controversy…

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Island Records

Who are The Last Dinner Party?

The Last Dinner Party are the latest indie rock band to enter the music scene. From London, the band is comprised of five: Abigail Morris (lead vocalist), Lizzie Mayland (vocalist, guitarist), Emily Roberts (lead guitarist, mandolinist, flautist, vocalist), Georgia Davies (bassist, vocalist), and Aurora Nishevci (keyboardist, vocalist). 

The band rose to fame with their first single in their (UK Number One) album debut ‘Prelude to Ecstacy’: ‘Nothing Matters’. A gem that shook the indie sphere. Their following four singles  — ‘Sinner’, ‘My Lady of Mercy’, ‘On Your Side’, and ‘Caesar on a TV Screen’ — have taken UK music charts by storm. Official Charts report that The Last Dinner Party had the “biggest opening week of any band in nine years, since Years & Years in 2015.” 

Not just that,but last December, they won the 2024 BRIT Rising Star Award; and were the winners of BBC’s Sound of 2024 poll. They’ve supported artists such as Hozier, Benee, The Rolling Stones, Nick Cave, and Florence + the Machine. 

Safe to say, The Last Dinner Party are up and coming — but they’re here to stay.

What is The Last Dinner Party controversy?

The Last Dinner Party have come under fire recently due to some ‘unsavoury’ comments on the cost of living crisis. In The Times, rock and pop critic Will Hodgkinson reported that Abigail Morris had said: “People don’t want to listen to post-punk and hear about the cost of living crisis any more.” Hodgkinson then commented, “having attended the liberal boarding school Bedales, where fees can be £43,000 a year, the cost of living crisis probably isn’t a huge issue for Morris.” This framing painted the lead vocalist’s comment as elitist and dismissive of the ongoing cost of living crisis. 

The full quote is actually: 

To an extent, the Last Dinner Party are a product of the pandemic. These are people who had what should have been their golden years curtailed by the lockdown, experiencing seriousness and introspection instead. “We talk about this all the time,” Davis says. “After we came out of that period nobody seemed like they were having fun on stage any more, but we wanted our shows to be transcendent and escapist. I understand it — music was reflecting the ‘I’m so sad’ mood – but now people want catharsis in a different way. They don’t want to listen to post-punk and hear about the cost-of-living crisis any more.”
“Now they want an end-of-the-world orgy,” Morris says. “That’s where we come in.”

Will Hodgkinson, Is there a future for bands? Why I fear for rock’n’roll, by our music critic, The Times

The misquote garnered a lot of controversy and backlash from fans and other listeners for the TLDP’s supposably ‘out of touch’, and ‘tone deaf’ comments. The band defended themselves on their X (formerly known as Twitter) page, stating that, “The comment was lifted from an interview we did six months ago, removed of context, tone, and intention, and now it’s been shoehorned into a new article about something totally different.” The statement called out the wording of the article, claiming that Morris had never said what was quoted (whilst implying the quote actually belonged to state-educated bassist Georgia Davies). 

I can say with confidence that Abigail never said the quote that has been attributed to her in the article that’s going around.
The comment was lifted from an interview we did six months ago, removed of context, tone and intention, and it’s now been shoehorned into a new article about something totally different. The context in which I originally mentioned the cost of living crisis is extremely important, and it’s disappointing to us that it’s been presented in this way. What was said was in relation to people connecting with theatrical music as a form of escapism from the brutality of our current political climate, which is in a state of national emergency.

The speed of our journey as a band and the privilege we have (personally and as a result of being signed to a major label) has not been lost on us. The venues that gave us our careers in this industry are closing at terrifying rates because of rising cost of living and corporate greed. Without these venues there would be no TLDP, so it is of course something we feel extraordinarily passionate about. It is becoming impossible for artists from working class and other marginalised backgrounds to be heard. For the past few months we’ve been working on something with the Music Venues Trust to call for protection for independent venues and artists, but more on that another time.
I completely understand why people are upset. It would upset me to read that. But I just wanted to clarify that Abi did not ever say that, and it is entirely out of line with what we believe.
Love Georgia and the rest of TLDP

Src: Full statement on The Last Dinner Party Twitter page

Due to the clarification, Will Hodgkinson issued an apologetic statement on his own X account: “Yesterday I wrote a piece about the crisis hitting bands that — unfairly — used a quote from The Last Dinner Party from an interview I did with them late last year. Now they’re getting a load of grief about it. They don’t deserve it and I’m extremely sorry.”

Why do people think The Last Dinner Party are industry plants?

Island Records

The origin of the public thinking that The Last Dinner Party are industry plants stems (pun intended) from suspicion surrounding the band’s rapid rise to fame, from the inception of their band in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with NME’s “The Cover”, Georgia Davies said: “We take it as a compliment. If people think it’s too good to be true, then all we can say is thank you.” So, it’s safe to assume that the band are not fazed by this line of inquiry. 

First, let’s talk about the concept of an ‘industry plant’. One definition of an industry plant is when musicians garner fame very quickly via means of wealth, nepotism, or industry connections. However, there has been pushback by musicians and music journalists alike to drop the term industry plant. Vice journalist, Josh Terry, defended the band Tramp Stamps, “If there’s one lesson to take away from last week’s backlash against the Nashville all-women pop-punk trio Tramp Stamps — whose viral TikToks and recent single “I’d Rather Die” triggered social media invective against their derivative bubblegum mall-punk aesthetic — it’s that we need to stop referring to musicians as ‘industry plants.’” He explains deeper in the same article:

Despite the subtle (and not-so-subtle) misogyny and racism in many of the conversations around “industry plants,” the impulse to peg an artist’s success to nefarious and artificial industry forces is understandable. Chronically online and obsessive music fans tend to value authenticity more than the casual listener who gets their music mainly from the radio or a streaming algorithm. When this subset of listeners is given the choice between an explicitly underground artist and one that might have some level of outside financial backing or industry support, the first option will likely be the consensus pick. 

But the reality is that, […] most everyone else with a sizable audience either has the backing of a label, a publicist, a manager, a booking agent, a team of people helping them release and write music — or all of the above. 

Josh Terry, Stop Calling Artists ‘Industry Plants’, Vice, 2021

So, why are The Last Dinner Party accused of being industry plants? Abigail Morris suspects it’s misogyny. In an interview with Variety, Morris deals a truth-bomb: “A lot of people are acting like we’re the first people to do this, which is so not true because there are so many other female and non-binary-led bands in London, and before us. It’s just people don’t know about it in the mainstream. I think that’s where this comes from, people not realizing that there’s more where we came from.” Regardless, we’re in the breaking of a new dawn for indie-rock, TLDP are just here early.

Some members of The Last Dinner Party may be more privileged than most other aspiring musicians, but they are undeniably good at what they do, and that cannot be taken away from them. 

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An avid writer since before she reached double digits, Rina has always been opinionated and passionate about all-things story-telling. Currently a student at the University of Bristol, studying a Joint Honours in Film and English, she is enthusiastic about films/filmmaking, books, music, pop-culture and video-games. Rina used to write for NovelPad, where she was trained to write and publish articles by her favourite writer and mentor, Hannah Lee Kidder. Moreover, Rina has freelanced in editing and proofreading, and she was shortlisted down to the last 10 for the Scott Editorial Program. When she's not writing, Rina loves to listen to album after album, write stories and music, and go out for drinks with her friends.