A lot of people think the best thing about going to concerts is the chance to see songs you really love performed in a fashion only drunkenness prevents you from identifying as completely substandard, but the truth of the matter is that the best bit is arriving, marching straight up to the merch stand and seeing what's on offer.
If eyes are the windows of the soul (they're not but keep reading) then merch stands offer a glimpse into the way popstars see themselves.
Let's take a look at two merch stands we witnessed during 2014.
Merch stand 1: McBusted, O2 Arena, April 24
Fairly modest by big pop show standards, but there's still a lot going on here, including keyring things and the ubiquitous rubbish tote bag.
We had to barge our way to the front in order to take this picture; the t‑shirts seemed to be really popular despite being rubbish — Busted and McFly both have such slogan-heavy back catalogues that there must be thirty different missed opportunities on this merch stand.
Merch stand 2: Lorde, Brixton Academy, June 6
You could file this one under 'might as well not have bothered'.
We took this photo 40 minutes before Lorde was due on stage; the Brixton Academy was rammed but the merch stand's business was not exactly what you might call brisk. In fact, so non-brisk was the trade that the vendors were able to have a sit down.
Again, there are plenty of missed opportunities with this merch stand, but we do admire the simplicity of Lorde's approach, which we interpret to be "like the logo or piss off", and we're also impressed by her decision not to fleece her fans.
Thing is, we don't think Lorde's fans would mind the chance to be fleeced a little bit. In fact some of them would probably chuck £30 at a fleece with Lorde's logo on it, given the opportunity.
What have we learned?
Well, merch stands can tell us a bit about how artists see themselves, but they also give us a clue or two about how artists see their fans.
McBusted are happy to chuck their logo on a crap tote bag and flog it to gig-goers; Lorde would rather not.
And that's about it, but it's a good illustration of two sides of pop in 2014, is it not? ("It is not" — The World)