Ancient elephants, mythical creatures and Pinocchio

The summer of my musical education continues.

Friday, I took my 13-year-old son to the Mayhem Fest. It's a little harder than Taste of Chaos, which we saw in the spring and where I got to appreciate my metal faves, Bullet For My Valentine, and became a faithful and devoted Avenged Sevenfold fan.

The Mayhem Fest includes hardcore and metal bands Suicide Silence, Five Finger Death Punch, Underoath, Mastodon, Dragonforce, Disturbed and Slipknot.

I do enjoy some metal. I like what I've heard of FFDP. I really like Disturbed and I was surprised at how many Slipknot songs I actually knew considering I don't really listen to them.

My son knew every word to every Disturbed and Slipknot song. He sang along, he headbanged, he even moshed a little. Thankfully I wasn't there to witness that. He had a great time and thankfully returned with no bruising and his glasses intact.

Me, I sat at the main stage, wide-eyed, trying not to giggle at the bombastic overindulgence of a too-intense Mastodon. And appreciating how an onstage fan can make the flowing locks of Dragonforce look like a picture-perfect 80s metal moment. The band members' long hair is as much a part of their show as their dual shredding guitarists. And when the keyboard player jumped off his platform with his little portable keyboard in hand and started to run all over the stage, I let myself go and had a good laugh.

Then Disturbed and finally Slipknot took the stage and what had been merely an attempt at a grand stage show became musical theater.

After wheeling out Disturbed front man David Draiman on a gurney in a straightjacket and Hannibal Lector mask, the band lit into a blistering hour-long set that showed how good metal can make your heart pound and your blood boil. In-your-face guitars and drums and straightforward lyrics mixing politics and heartbreak make for music young men and women can get into and connect with., they know exactly how to put on a show. And they do it with no apology and with the skill to pull it off.

Supported by a light show, pyrotechnics and hydraulic lifts, Slipknot produced Grand Guignol with a metal soundtrack. Nine members strong, including three drummers and a deejay, the band wears grotesque masks to enhance the spectacle and performs an aural assault heavy on rhythm and full of furious energy.

Singer Corey Taylor's deep-throated rasp can easily transform into a more melodic instrument. Deejay Sid Wilson's broken and booted feet require him to crawl across the stage at various times to sit on the levitating drum kit of Sean Crahan. And during the finale, drummer Joey Jordison's kit rises into the air and turns on its side, requiring him to be belted in like he's on an amusement park ride.

The show truly is a spectacle worthy of theater and their music has that elusive extra power that transforms them from just another metal band into one worthy of the fierce adultation of their fans.

Next up, Bruce Springsteen on Tuesday.