Once the curtain lifted on the first of two sold-out nights at the Fonda, five glow in the dark letters taped to a guitar stand at the rear of the stage caught the audience’s eye. It wasn’t a surprise to see the word “Obama” on display since Conor Oberst was a part of 2004’s Vote for Change Tour.

As soon as the six members of the Mystic Valley Band appeared, it was evident this wasn’t going to be a night for politics, this was going to be a roaring evening full of sound. The group performed almost all of the tracks from Oberst’s self-titled release from August of this year.

The album sees the Bright Eyes frontman venturing more and more into country rock territory, as evidenced by the twangy licks of “Sausalito,” “Danny Callahan,” “Moab” and “Get-Well-Cards.” It’s country, but with smart lyrics.

The entire band displayed their prowess during a “Souled Out!!!” jam session gone wild. Although he frequently stepped out of the spotlight, letting guitarists Taylor Hollingsworth and Nik Freitas, bassist Macey Taylor, keyboardist Nate Walcott and drummer Jason Boesel take over vocals on various songs, it was Oberst’s vocal inflections and unique enunciations that made songs like “Cape Canaveral” shine.

After following Oberst through the many phases of his musical evolution thus far – from his material at age 15 through his myriad of Bright Eyes and guest appearance works, up to being named Best Songwriter of 2008 by Rolling Stone – I can’t wait to see what’s next.