AKUA at Hard Luck Bar (722a Dundas West), Friday (June 14), 8 pm. NXNE wristband or $15. nxne.com.
Pairing silky, restrained R&B vocals with layers of synthy electronics, Akua Carson manages to stand out in a stellar Montreal scene. She regularly plays in her hometown as well as New York City and Toronto - including last year's NXNE. (You can see her 2 am Apollo Studios performance on her website.)
Carson's blend of experimental kookiness (which we've come to expect from her city's indie scene), solid production chops and a soulful foundation is sure to provide a Zen-like reprieve from NXNE's noise bands, mosh pits and aggressive electro.
Not that we don't love all that - but it's an intense festival; variety is good.
If you like Akua, also check out Krystale at Czehoski, Friday (June 14), 1 am, NXNE wristband or $12; or Unbuttoned at the Gladstone Ballroom, Friday (June 14), 10 pm, NXNE wristband or $15.