Tradition and modernity faced off Friday at the north end of Tom Lee Park on the first night of the 2012 Memphis In Beale Street Music Festival. Visitors entering the festival ground through the heavily-traveled Beale Street entrance saw the embodiment of this clash in the form of the newly christened Beale Street Landing, with its heavy steel and sleek modern lines looming over the ancient Mississippi River. Inside Tom Lee Park the battle continued with the familiar tradition-rooted sounds of the FedEx Blues Tent, the stage closest to the entrance, giving way to an aggressively modern, electronics-fueled line-up of music on the Horseshoe Stage next to it. The Horseshoe Stage’s slant toward cutting-edge forms of musical expression would perhaps best be embodied by Girl Talk, the master of the musical mash-up — the artful combining of two or more recording to make a new one — who was scheduled to close the night. But the theme was established much earlier with acts like Breathing Carolina and Sponge Cola. Ordinarily a duo made up of Denver musicians Dave Schmitt and the scaffold-climbing Kyle Even, Breathing Carolina expanded to a five-piece on stage with the additions of a deejay, a bassist/ keyboardist, and a drummer. Real musicians did little to temper the heavy techno aspects of songs like “Woolly” and “Hello Fascination,” which juxtaposed Nine Inch Nail-style rage with synth-drive hooks and electronics-buttressed percussion. Even Sponge Cola, a band from Memphis In May honored country the Philippines, maintained a strong cutting edge vibe. A staple of recent festivals, the host country band is often a throwaway nod to organizer Memphis In May’s cultural mission. But with a thoroughly contemporary pop-rock sound that showed the strong American influence on Filipino cultural, the quartet proved themselves a band worthy of being on the bill in their own right. It was, surprisingly, Lupe Fiasco who strayed from the formula, albeit only slightly. The Chicago rapper was joined by a rock-style rhythm section, which with Fiasco’s boundless energy and the ’50s style Bullet Microphone he used, lent an old-school energy to the artist’s usually carefully constructed hip hop anthems like “State Run Radio.” Over at the Blues Tent, understandably, a more classic sound ruled the day, with Bernard Allison, the Minneapolis blues guitarist who has taken over for his father, late Chicago legend Luther Allison, and ’70s blues-rock giant Johnny Winter of “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” fame set to close out the night. Playing at the same time and the opposite end of the park from his South Memphis String Band bandmate Luther Dickinson and his friends in the North Mississippi Allstars, Jimbo Mathus and his band The Tri-State Coalition jump started the day in the blues tent. The band’s name is supposedly a reference to its members’ origins — Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas — but it could just as easily apply to the band’s musical territory, the intersection of blues, country, and rock. They effortlessly melded the three into something uniquely Southern on songs like the honky tonk ballad “Town With No Shame” and selections from their upcoming album White Buffalo. Following them was Beale Street regular Will Tucker, the latest in a long line of teen six-string phenomenon to come out of the Home of the Blues. He displayed, if not creativity in his covers-heavy, stylistically scattershot set, at least a deeper-than-you-would-expect understanding of the long lineage of electric guitarists who preceded him, including B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, and Jim Hendrix, with his deeply felt and expressive playing.