The kids from the Neighborhood House on St. Paul's West Side have no clue what awaits them Wednesday night. That's when they step out onstage at Xcel Energy Center to join Roger Waters in dancing and singing to the Pink Floyd classic "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" from "The Wall."
Ranging in age from 7 to 16, the kids had never heard of Waters, Pink Floyd or the song before last week. Some of them have seen the X from the outside, but none of them has ever been inside it. In fact, none of them has ever been to any type of rock concert.
Are they worried about that? Not a bit, assured 7-year-old Kamora. (The kids' last names are not being used at the request of the Neighborhood House.) She's an old hand at dance recitals that have drawn "huge" crowds. "I performed once in front of almost 200 people," she announced proudly.
Ah, Kamora, there will be a few more than that. Can you envision more than 13,000 people watching you? She looked perplexed before finally admitting, "Not really."
"I can't wait to see their eyes when they walk out on that stage," said John Guertin, the youth leadership manager at the Neighborhood House, a drop-in center for kids after school and on non-school days. "They've never done anything like this."
Other kids have. On each stop of Waters' "The Wall" tour, he recruits youngsters from an inner-city nonprofit program to join him for the signature song. The program gets a donation from Waters, but when the call came to Guertin -- a Pink Floyd fan who still waxes poetic about the band's 1987 concert in the Metrodome -- he accepted so fast that he forgot to ask how much they'll be getting.
Not that it matters, because he also figures that it's going to be a great learning experience for the youngsters.
"It's more about the experience of going backstage and seeing how everything works," he said. "The kids get to meet professional musicians. And they get to meet an iconic member of a legendary band."
That last part may be lost on most of them, however. An informal survey of half of the 20 kids who will be onstage found that none of them had heard of Pink Floyd, the British rock band formed in the late 1960s, or of Waters, one of the group's founders.
"But my dad has," said Kabao, 15. "When I told him, he got really excited."
Waters sent a video of what the kids will be performing. It shows a rehearsal with him leading a group of youngsters through the program.
"Watch Waters; he's going to show you everything you need to know," Guertin urged as he played the video for his troupe at a practice session last week. When that request was met with blank stares, he amended the directive: "Watch the guy with gray hair."
Once the kids had the dance steps down, youth leader Shanna Woods set out to teach them the lyrics.
"You're going to love these words," she promised. "The first line is: 'We don't need no education.'"
Her prediction proved to be right. By the time they reached the line "Teacher! Leave those kids alone!" everyone was singing enthusiastically.
The kids will be part of the concert's fifth song. Because it's a school night, they'll leave the center as soon as they're offstage. But they already will have been there for more than three hours -- to do a dress rehearsal with Waters.
Although he can't completely envision what it's going to be like, Tyvion, 14, a member of the Neighborhood House's Teen Power dance program, knows he's going to have fun.
"I'm not going to be scared; I'm going to be excited," he promised. "I'm just going to get myself pumped up to experience the moment."
Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392