One of the hippest outdoor events of the summer will take place this Saturday at the North Carolina Museum of Art. It's a double bill, leading off with a live performance by the French combo Les Primitifs du Futur, followed by a screening of last year's wondrously strange The Triplets of Belleville.
Les Primitifs du Futur seem to have recorded only one album, 1987's Cocktail d'Amour, but it remains a world jazz classic. Specializing in the music hall sounds of 1930s Europe, this band's most famous member is the cartoon artist R. Crumb, who played mandolin on the record. (Crumb is otherwise engaged these days, so he will not be among the performers in Raleigh.)
After the concert concludes in the bandshell, the show moves over to the movie screen where Sylvain Chomet's animated, instant classic The Triplets of Belleville will screen. At a brisk 80 minutes, this film tells the shaggy dog story of a young French bicycle racer, his grandmother and his dog. Along the way, there's a running of the Tour de France, a kidnapping and a darkly surreal journey into the mythical (and perhaps American) city of Belleville, where the aging Triplets--once famous music hall chanteuses--are waiting.
The plot may be a little baffling, but the film is really a daffy celebration of the animated imagination and a nearly bygone way of French life. It's a singularly glorious achievement.
Les Primitifs du Futur will begin their set at 7 p.m. this Saturday, July 10. The Triplets of Belleville will screen afterward. Tickets are $12, $9 and $5. www.ncartmuseum.org.