Guns N’ Roses showed up at Reading an hour late. Which, for Guns N’ Roses, is early. The problem seems to be there that the crowd was booing even the mention of their name throughout the day, let alone once they finally arrived. (It didn’t help that several other bands that day mocked them as the festival went on - including Blink 182 who, frankly, don’t have a whole lot of room to be casting stones.)
Be that as it may, the problem didn’t seem to be so much with Guns N’ Roses as it was with Axl Rose. By all accounts, the band was pretty good, but Axl changed outfits five or six times, and then met the crowd’s hostility...well, the only way he knows how - by reflecting that hostility and throwing it back at them. Stories of whether or not their Reading set was sabotaged from jump (Rose certainly seems to think it was) could be argued, but the fact that the crowd was against him even before they showed up can’t.
Three different performers. Three different sets of circumstances. All having the same result - a performer giving their all is rejected by the crowd that came to see them (especially in Corgan’s case, since that wasn’t a festival appearance). The concert industry has taken a hit this season; between exorbitant ticket prices and a struggling economy, many artists have had to cancel shows or, in some cases like Christina Aguilera, entire tours.
However, the question has to be asked: what does a concert-going audience expect out of its performers? Have we been so built up by various media and PR stunts to think that what we’re supposed to see live is the greatest thing we’ll ever see, bar none? Or do those same PR stunts hurt a performer’s reputation that the audience is showing up simply to witness a train wreck - and getting so antsy at not seeing one that they’re willing to do their part to create one?