It’s official: It’s no longer alternative to be “alternative”. It’s cool to be into variety, cabaret and performance art. If you had somehow failed to notice the variety revival of late, be it in the Glasgow Cabaret Festival or the strong presence at this year's Fringe, then let us awaken your sensibilities with the first birthday bash of Itsy’s Kabarett and the Cocoon Counter Culture Festival. With an impressive first year under their belts, the coming year holds great things for their “twisted variety” evening. They’ve played host to an impressive bill of guest stars including Ryan Styles, Frayed Knot and Miss Behave, and have drastically expanded their core fanbase. Dee Itsy says that “the earliest outings of Itsy’s Kabarett attracted underground audiences from the vintage, gothic and arts scenes in the city, but from as early as our third show we were attracting a larger and more diverse audience than we could ever have imagined, although our underground ethic has always remained”. Dee thinks “that variety can really capture the imagination and our line-ups are so eclectic that they have both underground and mainstream appeal. I personally love that we attract such a diverse audience and hope this continues”. And long may it continue, particularly with its part in the Cocoon Counter Culture Festival, which aims to, as Dee says, “fuse counter-culturally focused musical and art forms together with an intelligently curated line up of both international and local artists and musicians.” The Itsy’s collective have indeed come up with a truly eclectic line-up, with something surely to please even the fussiest of audiences. Jesu (creation of underground music pioneer Justin K Broadrick) headline the Saturday evening in their first ever Edinburgh performance. Similiarly, Sunday night headliners Crippled Black Phoenix also pop their ‘Burgh cherry and the group (featuring members of Mogwai and Esoteric) create “endtime ballads within cinematic soundscapes with music hall and poetic sea shanty interludes”. The coming year looks bright for Itsy’s Kabarett but as always, with a “hint of the twisted and macabre at least”.